Just Say No To Ashes!
I have a pet peeve, and it is the ecumenicalization of the Methodist Church. I became a Methodist originally because my parents are Methodists and I was raised in a Methodist Church, but having now developed independent thought, I remain a Methodist, although I do admit a facination for comparitive religious discussions. Being a Church Musician meant that I didn't always attend a Methodist Church, I did a 5 year stint as the Sr. Choir Director at a Lutheran Church. It taught me a lot about the Church Year, since music selection in a liturgical church is driven by the scriptures in the Church Year. It also brought me face to face with a more traditional liturgy, one where one sings Advent Hymns not Christmas Carols before Christmas, and as it was told to me by my choir members, no Alleluia's in Lent.
All that leads me to the Imposition of Ashes, a few years back one of our Sr. Pastor's decided that we should have the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday, now up until last year, I just simply avoided the issue, since I was not the Minister of Music, I could just not attend the service. Last year I did attend, as the choir was singing, but did not go forward to receive the Ashes. I have a problem with it, part of it I associate with the Catholic Church, and I have made a concrete decision that I do not wish to be Catholic as a result, I don't want something that I grew up thinking of as a Catholic thing as becoming a Methodist thing... Also, the Catholic's I know go to a lot of thought to give something up for Lent. We Methodist's don't so Lent is not the time of sacrifice and service that it is for Catholic's it is more of a time for introspection and prepartion for Easter.
I personally do not think that I need a reminder such as the Imposition of Ashes to remind me of the time that that Christ spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry. Nor do I need a reminder of what is to come, about the commemoration of Christ's Death and Resurection on the Cross. The whole part and parcel of Christianity.
So again this year I will just say no to Ashes, and take my preparation for Easter from there.