There are moments in ministry, such beautiful moments.
Last night. Ash Wednesday.
I didn't plan this per se, but just spontaneously, as each person approached and stood before me, I touched them lightly on the shoulder, to sort of ready us both, then I caught their eyes and held them (if they allowed that), smiled, opened myself to them in their uniqueness. Then I slowly made the sign of the cross of their forehead, saying their name, and then, "Turn from what is false within you, and truly live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen. Oh, it was so powerful!!
We burned the pieces of paper on which were written everyone's confessions. I "declared God's mercy," and then I told those gathered that I had a gift for each of them. Just a little fresh flower, but very pretty. Yellow.
I went to each person there -- we had 40 or 45 -- as they sat in their pew. As I handed them the flower I said something about it being a reminder of their God-given beauty. So many people had tears in their eyes. Including me, of course.
What made the service one of those moments in ministry was, as always, that "I" dissolved. And "I" was never more fully present. It's the miracle of the Spirit at work within us.