~ Photo above by Silvia Flores/The Fresno Bee
Community UCC will again offer Ashes to Go on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Here is a link to a Fresno Bee article and video about our first ever Ashes To Go in 2017.). And for the first time, our church will also offer Glitter+ Ash, an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration. (This 2017 LA Times article talks about the relatively new Glitter+ Ash tradition.)
Glitter+ Ash exquisitely captures the relationship between death and new life. We do not live in fear of ash — of death — we place it on our foreheads for the world to see. We know that fear will rise, cramping our hearts. We also know that God specifically calls us not to project that fear onto the Other, the alien, the stranger in our midst.
God insists that we look for the spark of life, of hope, in ourselves and one another. This Ash Wednesday, we will make that spark easier to see. We will stand witness to the gritty, glittery, scandalous hope that exists in the very marrow of our tradition.
Ashes to go and Glitter+ Ash will be available in the Community UCC parking lot from 7 to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, and then from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at United Japanese Christian Church, 136 N. Villa Ave. in Clovis.
Celebrate with an evening service at 7:30 p.m. that day at the United Japanese Christian Church with Rev. Akiko Miyake-Stoner and Pastor Chris Breedlove.
“Marked by Ashes” by Walter Brueggemann
Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.
This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.
On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.