“Do you not realize what the Holy One can do with dust?”–Jan Richardson
By Steve Kriss, Executive Minister
Growing up in a dominantly Catholic community, I annually had ash envy. There was something about that mark of the cross on the forehead, the smear and the audacity of wearing it out and about in town and at school that made me want to be marked similarly.
This year I joined the shared worship at Blooming Glen, jointly planned with Deep Run East and Perkasie congregations. Each of the congregations’ pastoral leaders had a part. I found my eyes becoming full as I watched them mark each other’s foreheads, after finishing marking those who came forward. There was something both beautiful and awful in the fragility of the statement “from dust you’ve been created, and to dust you shall return,” being spoken to pastoral colleagues I know and love.
“Do you not know what the holy one can do with dust?” It’s a serious question, written poignantly. The dust of human existence breathed on by God becomes true life and even resurrection. Until then, we have these fragile days of marking, of honoring life, of sharing generously, of witnessing profoundly, of journeying together in sickness and in health, ’til death do we part.
Last Thursday, we honored the relationships we have with our credentialed leaders in an evening dinner with music. It was a lovely night with good food and fellowship around tables while listening to some Gospel Folk music by The King’s Strings. It felt like an extravagant night out for some of us. A few pastors incredulously and skeptically wondered how the costs had been covered. Two families from our community paid the bill as a gift, to show their appreciation for our credentialed leaders and conference. Our pastors who attended felt honored. It’s one of the ways we honor life’s fragility, through generosity and appreciation. I’m grateful for our donors and our time together.
We set out now into these 40 days of journey toward the cross and resurrection. Some of us are fasting from sugar or social media. My catholic cousins often refrained from chocolate or soft drinks. A recent suggestion I appreciated invited us to give away something every day. They are all acts of devotion or attempting to focus direction differently. These can be meaningful practices that stretch and strengthen our spiritual reflexes and muscles. The Hebrew prophets repeatedly provoked honest service, pure-heartedness, and justice-seeking & doing over showy displays. Our religiosity and practice, even during holidays, that help tell the story of our faith have little meaning without right relationships.
We continue to work and hope across our conference, our cities and towns, our country and all the world of sharing God’s extravagant and creative love incarnated in Christ and also through us when we live out the invitation in Isaiah to seek justice, share generously and relieve the burdens of those who struggle. This is our journey this season of Lent, and always.