As I write this at the end of the day on Ash Wednesday, I do so with a humbled heart. Today, our congregation offered ashes to our wider Tucson community. It is the first time after a break due to the pandemic. We weren’t sure if people would stop by. We wondered if the individuals and families that had become regulars over the years would know we were there. We wondered if we would have enough volunteers. On Tuesday most spots on the sign-up were empty. We learned, however, we had no reason to be concerned. First Christian members showed up starting at 6:30am. We had enough volunteers for twelve hours, and everyone stayed busy throughout the day as we greeted, prayed with, and administered ashes to 700 people.

Today we worshiped in the sanctuary that is our parking lot. We worshiped with people driving up in tow trucks, sedans, delivery vans, SUV’s, and even a garbage truck. We worshiped with people passing by on foot. We kept hearing over and over how thankful people were. We kept hearing gratitude for a connection to God on this day. A couple in town from Green Valley for a doctor’s appointment. A young child on her way to a surgery. People with medical diagnoses they had just received. Others with financial challenges. University students. Grandparents with grandchildren. The members of Comunidad Limen Christian Church, the new church start led by Rev. Pedro Ramos Goycolea. As we spoke of the grace of God, they shared their stories and we experienced community in God’s presence.

On Ash Wednesday, we remember that we are not perfect. We live in an imperfect and sometimes chaotic world. And we remember that God’s grace and forgiveness is always offered to us. God’s love welcomes us just as we are. Remember that you come from dust and to dust you shall return. Remember, you are a beloved child of God, given life to bring life into the world!