Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday

I told this story/fable at the Ash Wednesday service last night:

Once upon a time, not so very long ago-or too far away for that matter-there was a village. Everything it needed; from blacksmiths to bookbinders, this village one thing...the village lacked a bakery. And so, to make the best of an inconvenient situation, the village arranged to buy its bread from traveling merchants.

So it was that on a bright spring day; when the buds were just beginning to open, and the birds eggs cracked to introduce tiny wings and beaks to a new world, that the air in the village was filled with the warm friendly odor of freshly baked bread.

The smell itself was delicious. Toward it the children came, turning summersaults in the dusty street while their parents called happily to one another as they moved toward the market.

In the marketplace the merchant, gaily clad, stood calling; the bells on his bright three cornered hat ringing merrily. "Fresh bread here, warm bread here," he called as he saw them come. And they all bought his wares.

Suddenly..."You can't eat this stuff," a boy cried out. "It won't chew," cried a second child.

And it was true. It looked like bread. It smelled like bread. But unlike bread it was rubbery and hard and tasted sickly sweet.

"We cannot live on this," the people cried.

"Who said," the merchant replied, "that you could have both the pleasure of smell and warmth...and bread's nurture too? Impossible! You must chose: pick one, forget the other." The three bells jingled on his hat as he nodded in his wisdom.

And the merchant was dressed so fine, and spoke with such conviction, that the townfolk believed him; and swore they'd not be fooled again.

They buy stale bread in the village now; for it is hard and has no odor. And they shut their windows and bar their doors, whenever they smell fresh bread.

They eat the stale; and smell the freshness that creeps through the keyholes and the cracks in the windows. And often wonder, with tears in their eyes, if "maybe, just maybe......"

As we move into this season of Lent perhaps we might think of the things that we've been told will nourish us....that don't. Perhaps we can remember those relationships and events in our lives that have been "true bread"-giving us nurture and warmth and a 'taste' of something that we desire.

Lent will be a time of admitting that we've bought in to a lot of things that don't really feed us....even though, for the moment, they feel like the might. Can we explore setting them down...even for a day. Perhaps longer. Lent can become a movement toward freedom.

Can we remember what has feed us in our lives? The people, the relationships, the events, the moments. Remembering these may guide us back to the places where God's love and "true bread" have been evident.

This is my myself and to you, this Lenten season. I wonder where such a spiritual discipline might lead us.

Dr.Keith Jones, head of the seminary in Prague where Bill and Nancy Lively have served over the last four years, will be leading us in our morning worship and Euchrist this week. We will all join afterward for an Agape meal together. I hope you will be able to join us as we welcome Keith and look forward to his leadership.


1 comment:

Broadneck Baptist Church said...

Uploaded 3-18-09. I was sad to miss the service this year due to class. Thanks for recording it, Stephen!