Today Lent begins! We will gather in just a few hours for a Public Ashes “Drop-in” in Bates-Hendricks from 12-2pm (with a short service at 12:15pm), and we gather tonight at 7pm for a joint service with Spirit of Joy for a full Ash Wednesday service (including Eucharist) to remember our mortality and confess our sins and need for Christ together.
Here are the details of our services and some resources on how we practice Lent:
- Public Ashes Drop-in (Downtown) – 12-2pm
- Ash Wednesday Eucharist Service Joint Service – 7pm
- Resources for a Good Lent
- How To Fast For Lent
Also, this past Sunday we said goodbye to our dear friend Carlo. He has been a member of our church for a long time and is moving with family to New York City. A few months back, he wrote a reflection on how the Eucharist orients his identity in Christ with the Church. Here it is. Enjoy this piece by Carlo.
After God’s Own Heart: The Outsiders
To be called after God’s own heart
Implies men of faith and courage
Saints smiling kindly
And prophets begging for justice
But spoken of a king?
Can this be?
The bastard son of Bethlehem nobility, eager to murder giants?
The runaway polygamist, blaspheming holy bread?
That corrupt politician who collects women and slaves?
The murdering rapist?
A neglectful father?
Is THIS is the man after God’s own heart?
By what measure was this man measured?
What qualifier was found more worthy than his many faults?
By which standards, what acts, and what grace can this man be accepted?
The long journey of studying lives is for my own life.
And so the question turns, ever deeper, towards me.
Who am I?
What aspects shall be remembered when I am judged?
Am I my sexualities? My race? My faith?
Am I my stories? My jobs? My personality?
My loves and my hates. My joys and my fears. All experiences
Wrought together that I may call me, me.
Where does Reality focus her blinding gaze?
What shall define me?
Am I a heretic? The eternal outsider?
An Adventist among Anglicans? An Anglican among Adventist?
What of Christianity? Am I a confessor due to convenience?
Happy to be in the warm faith of my childhood and stories
And the blood and soil and money of colonizer and charlatans?
Am I black, enough? Haitian enough?
A child lost between the worlds
He cannot speak the tongue of his grandparents
He does not cook their food
He asks questions they find meaningless
Who am I?
I know. Despite storms of anxiety, flashes of rebellion, and fears of failure, I know.
The Eternal One has prepared for me a banquet table.
Each Thanksgiving day, before my Grandmother’s table
Surrounded by my spectacular family
Oh how deeply I know who I am.
I am an outsider. We are all outsiders. It is what brought us together.
We are Haitians in America.
Blacks in Alabama.
Northerners in the South.
We are liberals among conservatives.
Immigrants among Americans.
Adventists among Evangelicals.
And yet, unified, we are not so completely uniform
We are not all Haitian.
We are not all Black.
We are not all Northerners.
We are not all liberal.
We are not all Adventist.
We are all here
We are gathered around this holy table
Filled with steaming rice and red beans
Baked macaroni with crispy crusts
Turkey legs swimming in onions, peppers, and clove
Potato salad, green bean casserole, sparkling juice
And on this the most intimate of meals
We are thankful for God’s most intimate gift: Godself
I know who I am every time I come around The Table.
I bow, and am filled with delight to bow before a table each Sunday
I am happy to cross myself before it
To adorn it with silk robes and crosses and books
Here I am still an outsider:
I am the only black man
The only former Adventist
The only single young person
That loneliness is as familiar as family
And yet, we are all outsiders. It is what brought us together.
Outsiders, also from large cities, now laying roots in Indiana
Progressives, also surrounded by conservatives and neoliberals.
Religious minorities, who also feel more comfortable here than at “home”
Here are others who could no longer stand their own churches any longer
Here are others who cannot find it in themselves to leave Jesus!
He we worship the ultimate outsider
A dark-skinned Palestinian man
(Can’t you see his woolly hair? His full cheeks despite his malnutrition?)
Who said that he was God,
That God which is beyond Gods
Beyond gender, beyond race, beyond existence
That God in which all existence is contained
Of who all stories point to
That God who our ancestors knew better to call it
But not enough to laugh that he might actually be a He
That God has come down
And brought all of the Universe into this dark-skinned Palestinian man
This breathing contradiction.
This walking god, this healing human,
This singular plurality
Has meant to bring us up to Him!
In order to make us Gods.
He is here to defeat the dark spiritual masters
Who expose themselves like cystic acne
In forms of governments and violence
Armies and disease
Abuse and greed!
And this outsider raises me on a new religious political reality
Where I, despite every noxious flaw
Am called a human after God’s own heart.
So maybe there is truth in this tradition that carried saints and charlatans
This truth that I bind myself to
That has a heart too familiar with coercion and pain and violence
Maybe then I can embrace those flaws in myself
And I will be feed at the table.
With food that is more than food.
With the greatest gift of all: God giving of Godself to me.