Ash Wednesday, which was the first day in the season of Lent, blew me away this year. I had expected that because Ash Wednesday fell during the middle of spring break this year, that our crowds would be much lower than in past years. However, attendance at all three services yesterday was strong; the noon service had almost twice as many people as last year!
Yet more importantly than the numbers was the amazing diversity of those who came to receive ashes on their foreheads. Ash Wednesday was an unexpected gathering of people who came to hear a word of grace, a message that the dusty people of God are welcome; all are welcome in God’s kingdom.
Faithful stalwarts in our parish were here; staff from Avance Waco were here; a couple from Abilene who had come to Waco to witness the birth of their grandchild were here; new folks were here. God assembled a surprising congregation on that day.
Ash Wednesday taught me that God is the one who invites us to God’s table. God is in charge of the guest list. The people who come through the doors of St. Alban’s might not be the people that I expected...maybe that’s what kingdom of heaven is like.