Thursday, March 30, 2006

For Midweek Moorings at my church, based on the book we're reading: The Moral Teachings of Jesus by Mary Foskett...
Anger and Reconciliation: Part I

I was given the choice of when I would like to speak during this Lenten series and chose to speak tonight because I thought it would be a convenient week for me. Not to mention that all the easy topics like marriage, integrity and wealth were already taken. My choices were Loving One’s Enemies or Anger and Reconciliation.

So I chose Anger and Reconciliation because the timing seemed better for my schedule. And besides I’m usually angry at my enemies anyway, so it seemed like either direction I went I was bound and destined to address anger.

Had I had free reign over any topic in the world to speak on tonight, suffice it to say, anger and reconciliation would not have been in my top five.

That may be why when I mentioned to a friend that I was speaking on anger and reconciliation, she burst out laughing before hiding her amusement and wishing me good luck.

You see, I get angry.

Anger is something I’m good at.

I’m good at singing and preaching and teaching and writing and scrapbooking and throwing parties but I’m also very good at getting angry.

Poverty makes me angry. Pollution makes me angry. War makes me angry. 50 year old textbooks still being used in schools makes me angry.

But somehow these issues of anger are not what I feel the text tonight is hinting at. They rather fall into a category of righteous anger mostly attributed to God but a just anger that we as participants in God’s kingdom may have as well. This is anger that speaks out against injustice. Anger that is validated by Moses against Egypt, Amos against Israel, and Jesus against the moneychangers in the Temple.

But I’m good at other types of anger too. I move from being angry about issues of poverty and race to being angry about “people who”…

People who bully others make me angry.
People who beat their spouses and children make me angry.
People who tell racist and sexist jokes make me angry.
People who don’t tithe make me angry.
People who don’t recycle make me angry.
People who litter make me angry.
People who don’t use their turn signals make me angry.

And you can see how my anger has now taken a turn away from issues to people.

But it gets even more personal when the offense offends me personally.

In seminary preaching classes students get told a variety of things. And I don’t know what Roger teaches at the Episcopal Seminary, but these are some of the things I heard: put a little bit of yourself in your sermons…but not so much that you incriminate yourself! Allow the way you wrestle with a text to be seen by your audience…but don’t be too vulnerable! Share about your struggles in life, but don’t drag your family into the pulpit!


That’s not incredibly helpful. And there are personal stories that I would like to share with you about why I am angry, but I don’t really think you need to know all that and I sure don’t need to rehash all that. But I will tell you this, I am angry about some things that I have yet to let go of.

I have experienced the grief of adultery on a personal level.
I have experienced the pain of sexual abuse on a personal level.
I have been hurt by Christians and churches whom I trusted on a personal level.

And these are all situations in which my pain took a turn from me being hurt to me being angry.


It is a complex topic.

And Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 5:21-26 and following. “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment.”

As a friend of mine would say, “Oh snap!”

Because although not all of us have gone the “Lizzie Bordon took an axe gave her mother forty whacks” route in life, we may think as Jesus begins “do not murder…”, “Yeah, yeah, I’m not a murderer. Get to the good stuff about peace, love and happiness. I totally dig that stuff.” And lest we get all high and mighty, ready to put on our crown and add the jewels, Jesus catches us in our pride and says, “even if you are angry…you are liable to judgment.”

And the crown comes off, the stones are dropped, the smiles recede and our fingers fold before our faces.

Father forgive us, for we don’t know what in the world we are doing.

And as if calling us out on our anger weren’t enough, he reminds us specifically of the way it manifests itself. “If you insult a brother or sister…if you say, ‘you fool!’…”

Oh great. I love that. I love being told I’ve made bad choices and then receive the list of every specific time I have.

You idiot! How could you be so dumb?
You pig! I hate you!
I should have known you’d do that.
Why can’t you be more like your brother?
I wish I’d never married you!

Then there’s the more subtle insults that arrive in prettier, wittier packages like sarcasm. As if it weren’t enough that we have to insult others, but then we have to do it with an air of superiority.

We’ve all felt the skin-splitting lash of a tongue and we’ve all dished it back out. Sometimes not even out of hatred… our motives are not all impure, but perhaps just out of pain. From our hurt comes our easiest defense as we attempt to build a wall around our already scarring selves. We get angry.

And according to Mary Foskett, when we do this to others, we become less human. Page 48 “humans are called not only to reflect God’s way and God’s being, but to become more human by doing so.” And then on page 63, “To allow anger to reduce a person to caricature and degradation is dehumanizing. Murder, anger and hateful speech all hold in common a way of seeing another person as something less than a human being.” Murder, anger and hateful speech impede our own journey toward full humanness found only in following Christ.

See murder and adultery and false witness and all these other things are easy to identify and point a finger at. They are public problems. But just as Jesus gets the Pharisees with their supposed righteousness, he gets us just as well.

As Foskett says, “the playing field is leveled” for all have fallen short of the glory of god. There may be millions of us who haven’t committed murder but none of us who haven’t been angry. King and peasant, priest and parishioner are all put back in their rightful place of unrighteousness when Jesus makes these revolutionary statements. Because Jesus came to fulfill the law, he calls us back to the ancient code of loving God and loving each other. The law is not about our obedience. It’s about our hearts. Jesus takes these hot topics and turns the tables, moving beyond the law to our hearts.

If you really believe that we are all children of God, don’t tell racist jokes to your poker buddies. If you really believe that we all deserve the grace of God, don’t cut down your co-workers.
If you really believe that we are all made in God’s image, don’t focus on your children’s faults, but on their beauty.


And I’m already back to laws and away from the issues of the heart.

Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and let go of your anger. Could there be a harder or higher calling?

How? How? How? I ask. How do I not harbor anger toward a brother who left my sister for another woman? How do we let go of the anger of feeling abandoned by a parent, spouse, friend or church? How do we rid ourselves of the anger that fuels our dinner table discussions and keeps us seething in bed at night? How do we find freedom from the anger that may not drive us to murder our enemy, but at least give him a good punch in the gut?

I don’t know.

There are people who have been released from their anger towards another. Sometimes it took years. Most of the time it took God. It took a God kind enough to change our hearts and grant us forgiveness should we be willing to take it.

And so I listen to their stories of healing. And I pray. I re-read scripture. I try to repent. I try to remember what I ever loved about that person and if I can summon that forth again. I try to keep my mouth shut so if the anger isn’t gone yet, it’s at least not spewing forth poison on everyone around me.

But mostly, I wait. I wait on God. I listen for God even when I hear God is silent. I cling to God because I know that I do not have the capacity within myself to make my anger go away. I do not. We do not. And so we wait for God to make us more human, more like Christ. And when we do this, God is faithful. And the sticks we see in others are flushed out of our own eyes as well. And eventually we learn to see with the eyes of God and though justice may not reign on earth, neither will our anger.

So we pray.


On your table is a question for you to discuss. You’ll have a few minutes to wrestle with that and then we will address part 2 of tonight’s text.

Questions: What is the relationship between getting hurt and getting angry? What has helped you overcome anger in your own life? Does “time heal all wounds” or is there more to absolving anger than just time?

Anger and Reconciliation: Part II

Okay, so Jesus has addressed our anger and the way we use it not necessarily to murder but at least to hurt others. But the second part of this passage deals more with anger that others have against us. So let’s take a look at that.

Verse 23 and following “When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go: first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Foskett says Jesus’ twist on the scenario “puts responsibility for initiating reconciliation at the feet on the one who has been wronged.” Certainly this would pair well with Jesus’ later remarks on turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, subversively putting our offenders on the defense by our change of character.

Now, its been my experience that rarely are others angry with me that I am completely without fault. But sometimes because situations get so tangled and miscommunicated people become angry with us and truth be told, we don’t know how or what provoked them to such resentment in the first place. Foskett shares with us a story like that. Maybe they are angry with us because they feel we are guilty because of who we associate with. That happened to Jesus often enough. It happens a lot with cliques in high schools as I’m sure our teenagers could atest. Sometimes, we represent something, an idea or cause that angers others and causes them to direct their anger towards us.

And other times we are completely guilty for the anger we have incited in others and we need to make that right.

And it’s at these times, all these times, whether we feel guilty or not, we need to stop our routine of going to church, attending Midweek Moorings, participating in Sunday School, volunteering at Oak Springs, and go to the person we know is angry with us and start the reconciliation process.

Now that’s never very easy either. If I feel I’m not guilty of the other person’s anger, I feel compelled to defend myself to them which usually results in more anger on their part. If I know I have wronged them, then I have to suck it up and ask for forgiveness. Either case is difficult and we risk making matters worse if we don’t watch our motives. But presenting yourself to someone who harbors anger against you is nevertheless step one of the reconciliation process.

Okay fine. Go to them. Now, what’s step two?

Jesus doesn’t tell us.

He doesn’t tell us what to say or do, how to make things better, what actions to take to humble ourselves or convince the other person we’re sorry. We don’t get much more than “stop what you’re doing and take the first step.”

But as Foskett reminds us, this step “is necessary to overcome the brokenness that intrudes upon proper communion with God.” Abundant righteousness she describes the direction the sermon on the mount’s overarching theme: abundant righteousness. And so, in Foskett’s words on page 55, “If we are the ones who harbor anger, we are to address our own feeling of animosity directly.” Write in a journal, seek professional counseling, pray, read scripture, wait on God. “If we are on the receiving end of someone else’s enmity, we are to have enough generosity and wisdom to disarm the other’s ill will by taking the first step to reconciliation. The way of the Kingdom allows no room for self-righteousness. The playing field remains level, no matter what side of an offense we find ourselves on.”

None can claim to be righteous.
None can claim to be good.
For none are good but God.
And none are good but through God.


On your table is another set of questions for you to discuss. You’ll have a few minutes to wrestle with those and then I'll close us out in prayer.

Questions: What have you found to be a helpful strategy in approaching others you know are angry with you? What doesn’t work well? If you have taken steps toward reconciliation and they seemingly have failed, how do you keep from getting “angry right back”?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My bible and journal are missing.

I might be having a heart attack.

I had them both Sunday at church. Retrace steps...I went to lunch. Went home to nap. Went back to church for choir. Went home. Met Shanna. Went to DCB concert. Came home. Tried to pack for conference Monday, realized bible and journal were gone. Lamented my mistake of leaving it at church. Went to bed.

Drove to Conference. More on that later.

Returned home. Read commentaries. Went to church to get bible and journal. Not in office. With eyes wide, went to Bible study and taught on Judges 1:1-3:6. Drove home. Searched car, bedroom, rest of house.

Enter heart attack.

Or at least panic attack.

I think I took them to my car with the intention to bring them home to pack for the conference after choir. But somehow they are nowhere to be found.

Must write lecture for tomorrow night. No bible. Must write about life. No journal. These are panic inducing inconveniences.

My journal falling into the wrong hands though? That's heart attack.

Oh geez.

Don't panic.

Don't have heart attack.

Start sermon.

Finish it tomorrow at work where there are plenty of bibles.

Pray to God, beseech the Holy Spirit, plead with Mary, appeal to the baby Jesus, take your medicine.

They'll be found...right? And no one who finds a journal on top of the holy scriptures would actually read the journal, right? Let alone toss the bible and keep the journal, right? Right?

I'm in trouble.

Friday, March 24, 2006

And she's gone.

Sigh. It's quiet. I'm not nervous. I'm not working and worrying about entertaining. I'm just being me. Quietly, by myself.

Actually that's not true. I went to a bird sanctuary with a rich friend who wants to buy a $1300 bird. I'd pay off my credit card with that money personally, but whatever. The bird can speak up to 2000 words and has the intelligence of a 5 year old. Why you'd want to spend 75 years living with a five year old is beyond me, but then again, I live with a cat who bites like a pitbull, so who am I to judge?

Tonight I work. Children's worship retreat and I'm in the music rotation. Tomorrow I work: rehearsal for next week's college worship. And Sunday I'm up in worship. Lots of worship going on here folks. You'd think I'd be more holy.

But I'm not. Mother can atest to that. I get cranky and snappy and short-tempered like the best of them. And I worry and get sad and can't let things go. And I date people that shock my family and believe things that shock my friends. What of that is sinful and what of that is just different, I don't know.

I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know.

But she's gone. Having left here, she's arriving somewhere else.

Just like I should be, I guess.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Crazy Carol's back.

After arriving and leaving with my father in February for the play, Carol's back in March.

Let me explain why.

Initially, when I thought I was buying a house back in January, we figured I'd move in in February, and she could drive down in March over her spring break with some furniture. However, as you well know, the last house was a no-go, so she bought a cheap ticket instead and flew down just for vacation.

Of course, one week to the day before she arrived, I found a house (and it looks like I might actually get it!), and that made Crazy cranky, "I should have waited!" But it's all good in the hood. I mean, who needs furniture anyway?

But I do need clothes! Well, need is a relative term. But Crazy and I went shopping anyway. New "work" clothes for Ann Catherine. Remember buying school clothes? Annoying dresses, uncomfortable shoes? Same principle except now I wear skirts and heels. But I admit, I did get the cutest pair of navy pinstripe long shorts that will look fabulous with a white shirt, hot pink vest and heels. I digress.

And as we always do manage to go shopping when Crazy's in town, we also managed to break the car. That's right. We're three for four folks, and it's debatable whether you can even count the last time she was here cause dad was with her. It may have thrown off her game.

As usually, the car broke down. Last time it was on the highway, and my students had to drive my mom from Waco to Austin to catch her plane while I waited in Waco for the car to be fixed. This time it just wouldn't start. Nothing. No turn over. No sad vroom, vroom, splatter, hush. Just plain silence. Well, except for the raidio which turned on just fine.

So we jumped the car. Nothing. Cleaned the battery. Nothing. Finally, we called Todd, the community mechanic. And after about three seconds with a hammer underneith the car, it started.

He hit my car with a hammer and it started.

I suppose all you car junkies know where this is going, but 500 dollars later, I have a new starter and windows that will roll up and down and up and down as much as you like (those have been broken for 9 months or so).

Needless to say, I'm pleased. Poor, but pleased. And mom is, well, crazy. And a good support system. We celebrated by going to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch Brokeback Mountain.

This morning we arose to journey with Michelle to the Natural Gardner with the intention to find a plant and statue to put over Radley's grave. That started off okay, but turned too sad for me. I cried. Michelle hugged me. Mom cried and picked out a nice plant with orange blooms. In my personal opinion, denial is always a less teary option. This afternoon, Michelle is taking mom to Wimberly to sightsee while I'm at work. This is me at work. I'm working. Not really, I'm not there yet. I just had lunch. But in principle, I'm at work.

So Crazy's well taken care of, and I'm well taken care of and Emily just had knee surgery and is well taken care of by grandma. But that's another saga and I've not the energy to tell it.


Friday, March 17, 2006

I found another house!

*gasp* groan

Maybe I'm jinxing it by writing about it on my blog, but I hope not. If all this goes smoothly, I'll be in a new house, my own house, my own home on April 13th. Whoa.

So here's the process thus far...

Monday: found it, freaked out, submitted offer, they countered, we countered...
Tuesday: the accepted but refused to pay $300 for insurance, my agent (love him!) went to bat for me and told them they were ridiculous, that i am a new homeowner, that this is customary, that they paid 49 for the home-remodled it and are now making 40 off it...
Wednesday: they put tail between legs, stopped looking at numbers and maybe saw me as a person and accepted final offer...
Thursday: inspection (this is where things got screwed up on the last house - draw in a deep breath), Roy told me this one was better than the last one, we talked about issues that really needed to be fixed, I emailed that to my agent to re-submit to seller...

I wait to hear from them. Will they fix the appropriate needs of house before selling? Will they shut me down and again I'm back at square one?

I guess only time will tell. Stay posted...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I've Been Tagged by Cat...

*four (other) jobs I've had
-waitress at Buzard Billy's four years
-model for Figure Drawing One class at Baylor
-dogsitter for Cat's dog Bridgett (never did get paid those last two months though...)
-seller of the Mary Kay

*four little known facts about me
-I've travelled the world (11 different countries) but am not monetarily wealthy. Don't ask me how that happened
-I would love to be a writer but lack the courage
-I want to be a lounge singer
-I think black men are hot

*four city airports I have visited
-New Delhi
-Chaing Mai
-Tel Aviv

*four favorite male actors
-Johnny Depp
-Kevin Spacey
-Jeff Bridges
-Robert Downy Jr.

*four foods I love to hate
-french fries
-ice cream
-carrott cake

*four websites I visit daily

*People I'm tagging
Steph Krall
I had a great morning at work which consisted of meeting for breakfast and coffee with a guy who has questions about FBC and Mosaic. We talked and ate breakfast tacos for forty-five minutes and I felt really positive. It is a tangible way for me to verify that I am doing good on account of the church. The church really is about people.

However, the church is not about people making out in the First Baptist bell tower at 11:30 am. It was awkward driving into the parking lot and seeing that. When I got out of my car and began walking towards the church, they sort of pulled away from each other. Smooth move. Like I didn't see you when I was driving up Trinity. So I went inside and handed that issue over to Marshall, our business manager. They got no business making out in the bell tower. "Are they wearing clothes," he asked. "Yep," I said. "For now." So Marshall walked outside to remedy the situation as the the secretaries giggled and I sat down to do email

Just another typical Wednesday at a downtown church in the heart of Austin. When Marshall returned back inside, he merely said, "God said be fruitful and multiply but not in the daylight and not in the bell tower."

Enough said.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tonight is week two of Lent. For one week many of us have abstained from chocolate, meat, alcohol, T.V, radio or whatever. Was the first week hard, you ask?

Is the grass green? Are there 24 hours in a day? Is the media biased?

Of course it was hard. Anything we enjoy that is a part of our routine is bound to affect our life when it disappears, or at least arouse our consciousness.

And so we persevere. We abstain, we resist, we say “no,” we say “no thank you,” we say “no damnit” and then smile apologetically swearing to ourselves that what we gave up is just food, just entertainment and we shouldn’t let it get to us.

And we resolve to be patient and wait for feast day.

Five weeks to go. Five more weeks of abstinence. Five more weeks of contemplation. Five weeks that will get darker and dimmer, not because we will become more obsessed with what we have given up, but we will be made more aware of what has been sacrificed for us. We will focus less on that chocolate and more on ourselves. We will turn away from the entertainment of the T.V. and be entertained by our souls.

Lent is a deliberate time of reflection, regardless of whether or not you gave something up. It is the color purple in the church, symbolizing royalty, but there will come a day, just a few weeks away when it will be the color black symbolizing sin that seems to triumph and death that dominates.

But darkness never wins. Light will always triumph. And Jesus will be resurrected. But until that time, we persevere. We wait patiently. And we reflect on ourselves: purple with triumph, black with guilt, red with anger, green with creativity and white with frailty. We wait. We persevere. We pray for Easter.

But that doesn’t make life easy does it?

Don’t tell me to be patient! You persevere through an 18 hour class load! You be patient when your boss is a bitch! You persevere through an eating disorder!

Don’t talk to me about giving up chocolate or beer or any of that superfluous crap! I gave up marriage for a career. I gave up my social life to pay the bills. I gave up college for this baby I didn’t abort.

Don’t lecture me on giving up stuff cause I spent most my life not doing stuff cause of the church and I’m sick of it. I’m ready to live for me.

Don’t admonish me to hold out to the end cause I persevere every day just to get out of bed in the morning.

Life is hard, I know. Life is fun, I know. Life is weird, I know. And we are at very different places in our journey. Some of us are old enough to have been to hell and back, and know the value of waiting on God, the peace that comes with perseverance. Some of us are too young to know what we do about pain, and we work harder at living day to day than the people who criticize us. We are all on different paths, but interestingly enough, the same God lights the way.

The same God walks with us where we are. The same God loves us when we triumph and when we fall. The same God heals our hearts and seals our souls. The same God waits on us even as we wait on Him.

And hopefully that gives us the courage to persevere even when it feels fruitless, even when it seems dark, even when life is too good to notice God.

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith,” Paul said.

And hopefully so will I.

I know, even now, that I have not fought for good like I could.
I may have not stayed the course as cleanly.
And my faith wasn’t always fortified,
But thankfully my God’s saving grace is not contingent on me.

And that gives me the courage to persevere.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

There's so much I want to say, but unfortunately, it suits itself only in journal. The blog has become too popular, too many people read it. Too many people would read about themselves. The loves, the addictions, the close encounters. So I leave my musings to my journal. You will continue to receive the anecdotes, the sermons, and even still some of the saddness. But not the rest.

The rest will go in the journal.

Or in the letters mailed overseas or stuck in boxes, scrapbooks and trashcans.

I haven't actually scrapbooked in months. There is no album for 2005. Not one damn picture glued to a page. Not one sticker or ticket stub. No complementary colors, no cute labels. No scrapbook for 2005.

For four nights I've come home with the intention to get it out, to scrap.

But I can't. I do the dishes instead. I play nintendo. I read. I pretend to write. I snuggle with the cats.

Part of the problem is I feel confined; stuck behind a door that must remain shut to keep the dog away from the cats, and it symbolizes how I feel tucked away between a rock and a hard place trying to get out. Wishing for spiderman, or supernatural strength, or even a bulldozer to get me out of this place, away from these dreams, out of these decisions.

And part of me just hasn't figured out how to put the pictures together yet.

My life is so great. I work. I date. I teach. I eat. I pay bills. I listen to people's stories. I buy shoes. I exist.

But I do other things too. I pop pills. I avoid conflict. I compare myself to others. And don't even get me started on my committment issues.

And sure enough, this blog's become too personal already. Funny, I haven't even touched on my love life yet(or lack thereof). But I'm not complaining about that...I'm scared. Committment issues, remember?

So the bad dreams and the fears and the wonder and the speculation will be saved for the journal, or maybe for the book I'll write someday.

But not today. Today you get a blog about nothing. And I get a journal full of something I don't understand.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Sometimes confused with happiness, but most often occurring when happiness will not.


It comes in a moment, it lasts for a lifetime. It acts as a buffer to our sorrow, fending off the evil that would take hold of our hearts. It fades and grows often alongside our sadness, but no matter its distance from our hearts, it always returns, a remnant never to be forgotten.


It is found in the mundane and the extraordinary. It comes in the moments and minutes we listed earlier. The stranger who smiles on the street. The waitress who goes the extra mile. The family who leaves an extra large tip. The child who laughs in the supermarket. The old couple at the movie theatre sharing popcorn. Two cats that snuggle together, keeping content in each others fur. An email from an old friend who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. A rainbow, a sunset, a hard rain.

But more than just warm fuzzies, it is a deep-seeded contentment that we feel in our core. We feel the peace of joy in the same place we feel the ache of misery, and sometimes, when we’re lucky, it supersedes it. From our gut which gives forth a cry of pain also comes the laughter of joy. A giggle amidst tears. A chuckle on a blank face. A guffaw from a tired body.

Joy is not always laughter, but it is contentment. Contentment that all is not well with the world, but all is well with out soul. It is peace that though our answers are not sufficient or even present, our God is, and our God triumphs. A knowing, a sensing that even when we are lonely or caught in a rut, God is present and God is more.

That is joy. It is tiny reminders that God is supreme. That we are not. But that the world will go on anyway. Joy is the knowledge of grace, the experience of it, the awe of it.

And joy may have to be remembered, rekindled, from time to time, but joy is never gone. It is as transcendent and immanent as the Christ who gives it to us, and as redemptive of the little grievances, as his love is of the great ones.

The world is not patient, but joy is peace.
We are not always loving, but joy is our grace.

Friday, March 03, 2006

This is what I wrote for our Ash Wednesday Service at FBC...

Ash Wednesday is not my favorite day of the year.

Primarily because I hate getting dirty. I’m compulsive about washing my hands, I don’t dig in the dirt even to plant flowers, and I hate camping. So ashes smudged on my cleanly washed and moisturized forehead is not only an imposition, but a cramp in my cleanly routine.

Fortunately, that’s the point.

Lent is a dark time for the church: an unveiling of our dirty selves. As much as we may like to avoid the “s” word…(that being “sin”), it is, in reality, a key part of our existence. And so, as uncomfortable as it may feel, as a thoughtful, progressive, cathedral church with all our programs, buildings, services and love, we are still called to examine our sin. Lent calls us out of the world and into ourselves. Lent reminds us of our inadequacies and transgressions both communally and individually.

And so, in preparation for Lent we will not only get our foreheads dirty, but our fingers dirty too. At the front of the sanctuary are two sandboxes. If you’ll look in your bulletin, after we read Psalm 51 and then offer our Prayer of Repentance, we will come forward in the center aisle, forming two lines. And one by one, we will go forward, under the cross and with our fingers, write in the sand. Perhaps you will write what you will give up for Lent in an attempt to discipline yourself in worship. Perhaps you will write the name of the sin that keeps you from communing with Christ. Perhaps you will write the word of an experience that separates you from God even as you separate the letters in the sand. Together, but in private, we will write a word or draw a symbol of what grieves us, ails us or makes us ashamed.

And then we will wipe it away.

After you write your word in the sand, conscious of your contributions to depravity, so will you will take your hand and erase that word. Symbolically in the sand we remind ourselves of the power and presence of God to recreate our lives. We confess to God our sin, and we cry out to God to follow through on his promise to make us clean again.

And the God who created the first human being out of dust and dirt will be faithful to create you into your own fullness of being.

From dust you have come and to dust you shall return.