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Spirit-Centered Moment

Written by the Rev. Mark Price

Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Lodi and Conference 8 Dean

To be called a disciple is not an office to aspire to, rather it is a function of how one is to live.

To be called a pastor, deacon or bishop is not an “office” or honorific title, rather it is a description of how one is called to live and function in this world.

In the early 90's there was a new pastor, new to their first congregation and for the first time presiding at an Ash Wednesday service. Calamity occurred when just before the service began the pastor realized that there were no ashes. The pastor ran to the fireside room. The fireplace was clean as can be. The next stop was to dash to the church office and burn some paper in a metal trash can. No, the smoke detectors did not go off, but the ashes produced by this method had the texture of dry leaves. (Ash Wednesday ashes work best if there is a “smeary” powder texture to them.) Standing in front of the copy machine the pastor began to panic, knowing that their congregation valued punctuality, and would not respond graciously to a late start with no ashes on Ash Wednesday.

The pastor tearing up and gripping the copy machine began to offer desperate prayers for a miracle. With watery eyes they gazed towards heaven and as they did so they also gazed upon bottles of black copy machine toner on the shelf above the copy machine. (Copy machine toner is essentially powdered ink) A miracle! The toner was powdery, black and had a certain smearing quality. The problem was solved!

The pastor never told the congregation . . .

It took three days for their thumb to come clean . . .

Around their small town, because this true story did happen in a small town in Pennsylvania, remnants of the Ash Wednesday crosses could be viewed on people’s foreheads through the following weekend.

For days the people in that small town had to view themselves and each other with the highest form of love. They had to see each other, and themselves, as baptized children of God. The town began to fill with love.

To be sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever as a baptized child of God is not to have achieved some spiritual “office” as one who is “saved” but rather it is a description of how one is called to function and live in this world. The highest “title” that one can ever receive is this one, the others are just fluff.

Remember you are loved and in that love remember how you are called to live.