I did it, but I don’t get it.
Tonight’s reading, from Matthew — When one fasts, don’t disfigure your face as the hypocrites do so that those who see you on the street know that you’re fasting, for there your reward will be, but put oil in your hair, and go out into the world with a smile on your face, and your Father, who sees you fasting in secret, will reward you in heaven.
And then we have the pastor put ashes on our forehead.
For those of you who haven’t figured it out already, I am very !!! conflicted about religion. I have often in my life felt the presence of an enormous spiritual power, although it seems to me to stem more from our collective energy than from a Benevolent Dictator, but there it is — something enormous and beautiful and far beyond the understanding of my feeble little mind.
And, I have a church job. This church job allows me to a) teach ~ 4 fewer hours less every week, and b) play great music every Sunday, working with other wonderful musicians and for a congregation which really seems to appreciate what I have to offer from a musical standpoint. (After the service tonight, as I finished the Postlude — the second Barber Excursion, which conforms to the dark and somber mood of Ash Wednesday — my biggest fan, Paul, whom I believe to be in his 60s, gave a silent “whoop whoop” with his fist.) I don’t generally take communion, as I am usually playing during Communion, and am not really sure I’m comfortable with the cannibalistic-ritual of consuming the “body” of Christ anyway. But as I waited for the pastors to complete the imposition of ashes, and wasn’t playing the “background” music at the time, I listened to them intone repeatedly, “From dust you come, and to dust you shall return,” and decided there wasn’t really anything wrong with being reminded of that, so up I went.
But doesn’t this count as “disfiguring my face,” as do the hypocrites?
I do like the last line of the Matthew reading: “For where your treasure goes, so goes your heart.”
Nothing wrong with being reminded of that, either.