welcome to the hike!

Working out the call!

I currently living in Millersburg or as God whispered in me ear four years ago in PA, "the land of my Fathers!" MILLERS - burg! OK! The best way to describe my life of late, is simply "Pastor-at-Large" I live "outside the box" of our usual expectation of life, family, employment and even culture. I live, breathe, and weave around a four county area as a local missionary and have learned of so many supportive faith communities. I meet people who contact me where they are in their 'hike 'o life."

The hats I wear are that of Life Coach, Writer, Speaker, Retreat Facilitator, Pastoral Supply, Prayer Counselor and well, whatever God calls on me to do (I actually get paid to do all of these things, which is awesome, unless you are helping me with my books!) I also work to "tent-make my mission work" as a church secretary for a sweet fellowship pastored by one of my favorite seminary prof's.

So what do I want to be when I grow up? Stay tuned! The goals are big and staying solvent month by month is a huge victory, but as I see my own heart and others hearts change and grow in my daily walk, I realize, I am not working for treasures on earth....I have direct deposit above. Guess that's a pretty sweet ride! Lacing up my hiking boots...on the hike o' life!

Friday, March 11, 2011


From this morning’s Chicago Tribune (Thurdsay, March 10, 2011)
Priests from Chicago's Episcopal Diocese fanned out to Metra and CTA stations, college campuses, nursing homes, even coffee houses today to perform Ash Wednesday rites marking the beginning of Lent.

The diocese said the initiative, called "Ashes to Go," is meant to reach people who can't attend church services, where ashes are placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross.

It said it was encouraged by the positive response to the outreach last year.

"Lots of folks on the train platform pulled out their cell phones and took pictures," said the Rev. Emily Mellott, rector of the Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard. "People who weren't interested in receiving seemed happy that we were there. One of the other folks told me one commuter said, 'I'm so glad you're not another politician!' "

A total of 26 congregations planned to have prayer teams at Metra stations in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Elgin, Evanston, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Lombard, Northbrook, Oak Park, St. Charles, Waukegan and Winnetka. Other congregations were sending teams to CTA "L" stations, college campuses and nursing homes.

Back to Darcy.  WOW!  Wish I could have been there!  What a time to just connect and live out my faith and offer prayers and blessings and BE PART OF THE KINGDOM BODY! 

Just asking - you don't have to answer - How would you respond to someone in the street like that? 

So just want to go back to the whole WHY of the ashes a bit, most have no idea why folks walk around on Ash Wednesday with dirty black smudges on our foreheads.

First, it’s not a smudge.
 It’s supposed to be a cross drawn with ash.
And FYI, not sure if I mentioned this earlier but the church tradition (for how long I am not sure) is to save the palms from Palm Sunday the previous year and burn these ashes and mix them with annointing oil or holy water.  Some churches even have folks bring back their palms from home during the Lenten season to be be used this way.  Most churches though just order extra, save them for a year and burn these in preparation. Or you can order them for a lot of money from certain supply companies.  This is something I did not learn in seminary.
This is a true and very funny story about yours truly.  So my call begins in the beginning of February and literally Ash Wednesday is days away.  Ashes? I phone my recently retired predecessor asking in a semi panic where do I get the ashes?  He says, "oh, not to worry, get a trash can and burn the palms in the corner of your office, you will be just fine!"  So I get the metal trash can (I still had 5-6 days to panic mode but was getting close to a full blown red alert) and on a gloomy cold February Friday,  I attempt to burn some palms.  Yes, they caught fire, but I was not able to get as fine as I wanted them, I mean who wants lumpy ashes?  So I make a couple of phone calls and our local Catholic Priest and Deacon were so kind to just allow me to share in their abundant supply.  (I was not the first protestant minister they helped out in this way!)  Whew!  Panic averted!  I love the ecumenical church!
I will never forget the day of  ash making - or the kindness of those who helped me all five years in ministry.  It got the to point where the local parishioner from the Catholic church would call me and ask me if she should prepare some for me!   I did always save palms though, partially because I kept thinking I would try again, but moreso because they make a lovely display on Ash Wednesday with the burlap paraments that I did make myself! 
But back to the smudge. Some of the people administering the ashes are a little better artists than others.
Either way, it gets the job done.

Second, the ashes represent our mortality and are an outward sign of our sinfulness.

But why would anyone want to be reminded of this?

Perhaps because it’s true. We are indeed mortal – we are dust, and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19).

 We are sinful too. And in a world that constantly says “if it feels good, do it” and suggests that a guilty conscience is just one more thing we need a prescription for, we definitely need this healthy dose of reality.

There is something much more important that must go along with this, though. It always helps to put everything we do in the Church in context with the most important event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter.

In this case, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is preparation for Easter.

And real preparation for Easter isn’t done with travel plans, fervor over the Sunday afternoon meal, and a resolution to eat less chocolate. It’s done in your soul.

If you are now just reading this and want to jump on, go ahead - we are not legalistic here!  I didn't get to an official Ash Wednesday service, but remember the idea is inward transformation and we are on this journey together.

We are allowing our personal humility to be shaped in this season.  I think about the hymn contained in Philippians 2, look at it and see how Christ has shown us humility.  I have chosen to use the Amplified Translation which loses some of the poetry of this hymn of the early church, but none the less helps us to better understand the humility of Christ that we are called to imitate.
  5Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
    6Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God  [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,
    7But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
    8And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
    9Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,
    10That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So whether or not you got a "smudge" remember, what we are called to wear is humility and a desire to walk in God, in this journey to more of HIM and LESS OF US ...

in this season of preparation to celebrate the greatest day in HISTORY! 

Our HOLY GOD, we thank you for always staying near us even when we don't want to seek you.  Help each of us to show kindess to others and take our hearts of YOU to the streets to share our lives and HOPE with others. AMEN

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