by Lisa Tome
Not every Ash Wednesday church service goes smoothly.
Bishop James Shand, who officiated at St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church in North East last week, told a tale of how a badly timed cough during the distribution of ashes left a parishioner with more ash on his face than is typical.
Bishop Shand led the service with Lay Eucharistic Minister Carol Weisel. About two dozen people attended the morning service. There were scripture readings from the Book of Joel and from the Book of Common Prayer.
"Go into the closet of your heart. Lent is about being in contact with God and making a connection with God that is significant," said Bishop Shand.
"Lent is the centerness and connectedness to God. Lent is a time to help those less fortunate and give to those who really need someone to care for them. When you give yourself away, you'll receive more than you'll ever know."
In addition to providing ashes during the formal service, St. Mary Anne's also provided Ashes to Go.
"We are meeting people outside the church and giving them a moment to stop and reflect as we start Lent," said Weisel. "We started it last year. We didn't advertise it and we had about 12 people. People just see it and stop as they are driving by. A lot of churches are doing that now."