RED WING — In contrast to driving to a new place of worship as I did on the first Sunday morning in Lent, Wednesday evening a week after Ash Wednesday I walked to a church I’d been to numerous times, St. Paul’s. And, I went there again the next Wednesday.
It was comforting to see the woman who used to wave to me from her kitchen window and the neighbor from down the hall where we now live wave to me from the pews.
Rather to my disappointment, the “churches around the park” are not sharing a community Lenten service this year, a decision that was made early in the year. I miss “prayers rise up like incense before you” and all, but stepping into the worship area I was delighted to see the aisle candles lit.
There were gold cords blocking off the pews farthest back. I think some of them may’ve been opened up as attendance increased. Not only was the congregation willing to learn a couple of new songs, we went up front to light candles. That was rather an impressive sight — the big wooden cross lain down on the floor and a couple of steps to the altar. There was a basket of tall slender candles and burning ones upright in the four pails of sand in the quadrants described by the arms of the cross.
As I left the first week, the repeated few notes just above middle C continued to resonate with me — “peace be yours.” There was a bright half-moon in the deep blue sky and light shining through the colorful windows of other churches nearby.
The second week, Pastor Dana Jackson said, “We’re not doing that,” regarding rubbing elbows, referencing how elbows have been used as cough and sneeze catchers. We did however pray for the “healing of the nations” — each nation’s name listed in song by leaders at the microphone.