In Prep for Ash Wednesday, Pastor Smokes Carton of Newport Slims

GALAX, VA- A sudden interest in historical church practices has led a local congregation to be without their leader for the beginning of Lent.

It all started when Danny Richards, pastor of Journey Church, discovered a whole new world of holy habits while Googling for sunrise service object lessons. He shared his findings at the next staff meeting.

“I haven’t seen our leaders that pumped in a long time,” said Richards. “Before I could say Mary Magdalene, we added a stations of the cross labyrinth to our Egg Hunt, and Betty Hooper volunteered to swing incense during the cantata!”

Lead soprano Hooper said they’ve learned changes can be both shocking...and valuable. “Last year, our children’s director introduced us to a dozen new fonts, and now our bulletin is the bees knees. This year, it’s Easter we’re going to spice up. As the kids say, this resurrection’s going to be totally rad.”

“I thought the Catholics were wrong about everything,” added member, Rhonda Winters, “but some of this stuff is really neat.”

In addition to the concept of fasting from non-food items, the folks of Journey were most excited about kicking off the Easter season with their first Ash Wednesday. Preparations for the new service, however, hit a major bump in the road yesterday.

“Pastor panicked when he read on Wikipedia that you needed ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday service,” said church secretary Helen Frye. “We usually just let the kids fight with their branches on the playground after the worship. We had no idea they had another use.”

“We needed grey dust, and fast,” said Richards. “So I made an emergency trip to the gas station and bought a carton of Newport Slims. I think the Lord understood. It’s not like I bought lottery tickets.”

He spent the rest of the afternoon puffing cigarette after cigarette by the back door to the Fellowship Hall, collecting the ash in an offering plate. That’s when Frye heard a loud thump.

“I ran outside and there was pastor knocked out on the stairs. A big ole gash in his head. I called 911 and tried to save as many ashes as I could. I didn't want to waste his sacrifice.”

Pastor Richards, hospitalized with a severe concussion, will be sidelined for a few more days, but the new and improved Easter celebration will go on.

“People have rallied together to make this thing happen,” said the youth pastor, Chaz Adkins, the staff person taking Richards’ place in the service. “Most of the women plan to draw circles on their foreheads with black sharpies to give me a target to hit with my finger. It’s just the Body being the Body, man.”

“It’ll still be great,” said the Pastor from his hospital bed. “Nobody’ll remember my smoking accident once they drive up and see the Hosanna Donkey Rides in the parking lot.”

—Matt O.

(For more Matt O. satire click here or to read his satirical book on American Churchianity designed for small group discussion, click here.)