February 10th marked the beginning of the Lenten season. This year my appreciation for this service deepened. In talking to other Mennonites I was surprised to hear that some have never been marked with ashes and usually just begin Lent with a Pancake Supper. How Mennonite of us to choose to have a large community meal that can include farmer sausage! Other Mennonites I talked to felt that the imposition of ashes, or a service on Ash Wednesday in general, is just too catholic of a practice to do in our Anabaptist churches. On the contrary at Wildwood this year we had a joint service with the L'Arche Saskatoon community. L'Arche has roots in the Catholic community so even the premise that we might worship together might be considered scandalous.I have, however, come to really appreciate the liturgical calendar and Ash Wednesday fits firmly into this.

Our service at Wildwood Mennonite called us to follow Jesus' example of entering into the desert wilderness immediately following his baptism. Jesus fasted to build spiritual strength and integrity in order to accomplish God's calling. But Jesus also enters the desert after hearing the affirming words of his baptism - "You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased." While affirmed in his identity in God, Jesus needed to wrestle with who he was as a created being and what his ministry would look like while on Earth. Jesus questioned who he was, why he was here, and what life was for. Entering into Lent urges us to ask the same questions. We have 40 days set aside to take up this task and Ash Wednesday is the doorway into this journey.

We encountered, however, a locked door while gathered together in worship.locked door

We approach the door ready to open it and start only to find that we hold ourselves back. What would unlock that door and allow you to walk with Jesus?

What burdens and baggage do you need to put down first?

What have you created inside yourself that isolates you from God?

When you come out of your baptism with God's words ringing in your ears what words will God send with you in the desert?

Our service had had a time of reflection for us to visit 3 stations.

The first was the Baptismal water.


Dipping our hands in the water reminds us of our cleansing and that God is pleased with us.

The second station was the keys.


We wrote on paper keys the things we needed to unlock within ourselves and taped it onto the door.

Station three was the imposition of the ashes.


We remind ourselves that we are dust and that we will return to dust. The ashes began as palms of celebration on Palm Sunday.

But now they are burnt, black and grey. Dry and Lifeless.

On Ash Wednesday the dry black, and grey ashes mix our baptismal  waters and mark us for a journey. They mark that we are God's. They mark that there is no sin, darkness or grave that will keep us from the love of God. The Ashes lead us to live out the gospel, as Jesus discovered while in the desert, that brings the good fruit of justice, peace, and generosity. These ashes are worth wearing.

Come back to God - back from wherever it is you are wandering, weary and worm. Come back to God out of your individual and personal lives. Come back to God with all your heart the Lenten season - and you'll find yourself home.


Sunday Mornings
10:45 a.m. In-Person Worship at WMC

10:15 a.m. Zoom Fellowship Time
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Pastor Joe Heikman
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Pastor Eileen Klaassen
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