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Observing Ash Wednesday in Community

A reflection by Rev. Lerato R. Pitso

On February 14, the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Madison held a joint Ash Wednesday worship service with Drew Theological School. The service was held both in-person and live-streamed.

The introduction to Lent was given by Rev. Mark Schol, who reminded the congregation of the centuries-long tradition of spiritual preparation. The homily was delivered by Rev. Mark Schol, who focused on the message from Isaiah 6:1-8. He encouraged people to say, “Here am I; send me!” as Isaiah did in the reading. 

The service continued with the imposition of ashes led by the Rev. Mark Schol and the Rev. Dr. Tanya Linn Bennett, Drew University Chaplain and Associate Dean for Vocation and Formation. Overall, the Ash Wednesday service was a time for reflection and repentance as the congregation prepared for the season of Lent. It was a reminder that no one is perfect and that we all need God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

The Theological School seminarians who participated in the program were Cody Beckett, who led the congregation with a call to worship; Francis Osuji, who opened the worship in prayer, and Peasipa Namoa, who read the scripture in the hearing of those gathered. We were blessed to have Mark Miller, Professor of Church Music, leading the congregation in music. A special thank you to Beth Quick, Chapel Graduate Assistant of Drew’s Craig Chapel, for helping with the order of worship. 

UMC in Madison did not only reach out to their neighbors at Drew to observe Ash Wednesday as the Lenten season 2024 started; Rev. Mark Schol and Drew seminarians also offered Ashes-On-The-Go at the Madison Train Station on Ash Wednesday for morning travelers. 

During this Lenten season, in the words of Rev. Schol, “let us scan ourselves and invite God to come and fill up” the places and parts of ourselves we know need God’s mercy, care, and love. 

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