Standing in front of Starbucks on a Wednesday morning in a long black robe, offering ashes and prayers, provides for some memorable interactions with some beautiful people – beautiful in their humanity, honesty and vulnerability.

There was a mom who wished to pray for her teenage daughter, and another mom who is adjusting to being an empty-nester.

There was a man who declined prayers on his way in, and who, on his way out, smiled and informed me he’d been praying for me as he sat inside drinking his coffee.

There were several who prayed for a sense of calm. A sense of peace. A sense of stillness.

And there was a woman who stopped mid-stride and teared up, when she heard my invitation. She turned around and said, “But I haven’t been to church in years.”

I smiled and extended my invitation again, asking if she wished to receive ashes and/or to pray together. She hesitated, then nodded through her tears and came over.

God’s love and mercy extend beyond church walls and coffee shops.

God’s embrace is wider than what we humans can get our arms around.

We are Beloved despite our best efforts to be or to believe otherwise, and so is “the other”.

I wonder, if she believed me?

I wonder, do we believe this ourselves? (Sometimes yes, sometimes no …)

This season of Lent is an invitation to believe, once again. To rend our hearts and not our garments. To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. There are a myriad of ways and opportunities at Redeemer, for us to believe and to be love, together. We can’t do them all. We can do some.

Stop. Turn around. Listen.

What is God’s invitation to you, this Lenten season?