Ashes to Ashes, Stardust to Stardust

Guest post: This was the message for Saint Andrew's Ash Wednesday service last night, as we kicked off our Lent worship series "Everyday Marvels." I am hoping you will indulge me and let me take you on two very quick journeys. First, we are going to go outward, away from the Earth like explorers into a vast cosmic ocean, into a Universe so enormous our human brains are physically incapable of understanding the scale of it. Next, we are going to go inward, to the very core of the cells of our … [Read more...]

The Fast I Choose: Lent, and What Consumes Us

Years past, I have rejected the notion of giving things up for Lent. I adhere more to the practice of adding a discipline TO my life, rather than the discipline of taking something away. The act of self-denial has always felt a little pious and inauthentic to me. Fine for other folks, if that works for them; but for me, nothing has ever felt meaningful enough to purge. I mean, in the grand scheme of the suffering of the world, what does it matter if I give up chocolate or t.v.?But I find … [Read more...]

The Death We Carry

I've been planning this for weeks. An intentional out-of-office beginning to Lent; traveling to different parts of town with ashes and blessings to share. Mostly I want to meet my people out in the world--in their real every day places where they live and work and share their gifts. Drawing a few strangers with my "ashes to go" sign would be an added bonus.Then last night, I got word of the sudden death of one of my church members. In my line of work, you expect to get these calls, on oc … [Read more...]

Water and Ash

From dust you were born. And to dust, you will return.Is that a threat, or a promise? On the darkest days, we sense death hovering in our vicinity, like a grey cloud. It feels chilly. It sounds like slow, dirge-y organ music in a minor key. It smells like ash and feels abrasive against our skin—like burlap.Sack cloth and ashes… That’s what we could be about today.Or.We can choose to hear those words as blessing and benediction. From dust you were born. To dust, you will retur … [Read more...]

Ashes and Casseroles: The Business of Life

I did a funeral this morning for a beloved saint of the church. Now I'm working on an Ash Wednesday service for later this evening.I tell you what--sometimes us Pastors have the funnest jobs EVER.Days like today, I remember that we are in the business of death. We are in the business of comforting folks as they exit the world; of blessing people into the next life; of drawing threads of narrative to speak the purpose of it all. We are in the business of sitting next to the widow.In ce … [Read more...]

Outlived and Outgrown

While perusing a Pottery Barn catalogue the other day, i came across this picture.Now, i will admit, for all that i think the Pottery Barn embodies all-that-is-wrong-with-America, a not-so-small part of my brain went "OOOooooo, pretty!" But an even larger part of my brain sort of lauged out loud...this is supposed to be a CLOSET y'all. Not only is it bigger (and way fancier) than my whole bedroom, but really...whose stuff looks like that? Where are the gym clothes and the mismatched socks? … [Read more...]