Welcome to the Ash Wednesday edition of Aloha Fridays with Father Tim. I know today is not Friday, but the title of my weekly entry is called Aloha Fridays. During the season of Lent, I’d like to offer more frequent reflections. Lent is, after all, a time for introspection and self-reflection. I plan to write brief reflections several times per week during Lent, along with my usual Aloha Friday entry every Friday. Think of it like the beginning of the football season when NBC hosts Sunday Night Football on a Thursday. Same title, different day. I am hopeful that writing more frequently is a practice that will enhance my own spirituality during this season and I am hopeful that I am able to share musings that help you in your journey as well. Lent is, after all, a journey. It’s a journey through life’s sorrows and joys. Ups and downs. It’s a journey toward the cross and ultimately toward the resurrection.

               Speaking of journeys, the next time you find yourself in the sanctuary at St. John’s, you will notice something a little different. The altar has been moved from its normal place of prominence. I want to assure you first of all that this move is temporary. At Easter, the altar will return to its normal place. However, in the meantime, the placement of the altar is a visible reminder of our journey through Lent toward the cross and then toward resurrection. You’ll notice the altar to the side of the sanctuary, with a cross along a path, leading us toward our statue of the resurrected Jesus. I am hopeful this visible reminder makes us think, reflect, and ponder.

               I know you might be asking, “Father Tim! Why on earth are you doing this to us? Why would you move the altar? It’s uncomfortable and unsettling!” And therein lies the reason! It’s uncomfortable and unsettling. Lent is supposed to be uncomfortable and unsettling. You’ll notice subtle changes to the liturgy during Lent and you’ll notice the moving of the altar and you’ll notice the sanctus bells have been replaced by a gong and you’ll notice the communion vessels are made of pottery. We already know the liturgical color has changed from green to violet and we won’t shout out expressions of alleluia until we arrive at Easter. If you’re “giving something up for Lent” then it’s kind of the same idea. We don’t make changes just for the fun of it. We make changes to challenge ourselves. To get out of our comfort zones. To become unsettled.

               I invite you to join me in embracing the feelings of unsettledness and discomfort we may experience. I believe St. John’s to be a spiritually mature place and I believe you to be secure enough in your faith that a few unsettling, uncomfortable changes won’t rock your world too harshly. I wouldn’t try something like this in a place that I did not know to be spiritually mature and capable. And believe me, I have served at places that are not ready for these kinds of changes. But I have been here for a whole year know and I know you are ready! The really neat thing about being unsettled during Lent is that when Easter comes around and everything goes back to “normal”, it will feel so great and wonderful! It will make us all appreciate it more than we otherwise might have. In other words, going through unsettled discomfort now will help to put an exclamation point on Easter. And as an Easter people, we should always celebrate Easter with joy and awe.

A Little Aloha on Ash Wednesday