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  • The Rev. Barbara Ballenger

Rector's Note: Remember that You are Dust-2.15.24

The Ash Wednesday dust has settled. The smudged cross has rubbed off. Lent has begun with no sign remaining to show that we are making room in our busy distracted lives for the new life we anticipate at Easter.  If at the end of these 40 days people look to that place where the ashes were and see a change in us, a look of joy, a sense of being raised despite all that holds us down, we will have done our Lenten best. We will have let Jesus do all that he set out to do on his own walk to Jerusalem and the cross and the tomb and the risen life.


My Facebook page, curated as it is with faith-based friends, delivers a steady stream of Lenten insights this time of year. For all Facebook’s sins, I’m grateful that wisdom also wiggles through on this platform. The Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson, bishop of the Diocese of Missouri, shared this particularly beautiful thought:


“Remember that you are dust, the substance of the stars, animated with the breath of life. Uniquely formed in the image and likeness of divine love. Authored in hope, forged in joy, very good of very good, no accident we, this beloved quickened dust, knit to love and be loved. Remember you are dust. Amen.”


What a wonderful thing for us who inhabit the dustbin of Lent to see ourselves as “knit to love and be loved” rather than sinners bound for decay. It allows the dust that we are to mingle with the dust that is all around us, the dust of all creation, the sign of our cyclical nature and the fact that God has let nothing go to waste in the vast universe of creation. As Joni Mitchell sings “we are star dust,” and she is not wrong.


Katie Ruth, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL), posted an Ash Wednesday reflection that reminded me that this Lent might be a good opportunity to be mindful of the dust that we are part of, and to include in our Lenten practice actions that hone our care for the planet and its atmosphere.  PA IPL, an organization that I’ve been connected with from its start, is a state-wide interfaith organization committed to lifting climate change as a moral issue. This year the organization has partnered with  Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and Interfaith Power & Light DC MD NoVa to create a Lenten calendar of ways to reflect on and take action that impacts climate change.


The action for today: Take some time to learn about some Christian responses to climate change with Dr. Julia O'Brien and Dr. Bradley Johnson with videos that can be found here. Tomorrow suggests we consider using eco-palms for Palm Sunday. Saturday we are invited to learn more about the indigenous people who once held the land that we now reside on, in our case the Lenni Lenapi. The calendar provides a nice way to work the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving into actions that take active care of the planet.


On Feb. 25 Tyler Fowler, PA IPL’s SE Pennsylvania Organizer and Outreach Coordinator, will tell us more about PA IPL at our Sunday forum. Come with your questions about how St. Peter’s can incorporate practices that care for the earth in how we use resources here, as well as how we can advocate for laws and policies that protect the planet, during Lent and beyond. 


Blessings,

Rev Barb

 

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