" H e y   A l l "
           Notes from the Vicar of Grace
              inclusion · service · discovery · gratitude
The Rev. Bill Harper

Hey All.

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

                                                                                Liturgy for Ash Wednesday

"All we are is dust in the wind."




Yes, I've repeated those words thousands of times-once a year, on Ash Wednesday, and whenever that hook of song from Kansas gets stuck in personal playlist.  It's the Ash Wednesday liturgy that really sticks-that hooks itself into my heart and soul.  We do this just once each year, and yet the soul and sentiment of our words and actions carry so much necessary weight and meaning.  It's amazing to realize that at Trinity Church, Wall Street, the wealthiest and most outreaching congregation in the Episcopal Church, this is their "busiest" day.  Not Christmas.  Not Easter.  It's Ash Wednesday that draws thousands of people.  They-the Wall Street neighborhood---stream through the doors to receive that smudge of Ash on their foreheads and to hear the words: "Remember that your are dust, and to dust you shall return."


I hear these words-and say them, face to face, with many of you-as a kind of deep "good news."  Sure, we would never consider greeting or comforting each other this way, but those 11 straightforward words convey honest truth.  We are dust.  Earth.  Humus.  Soil.  We are one with creation and we are all made of the same stuff.  It is humbling, and it is so good for us to be humbled.  So very good.  A friend, a scientist, reminded me one Ash Wednesday how good he felt to hear those words, and feel the grit on his forehead.  It felt good, he said, because he knew that the Universe itself was floating dust, seemingly ageless and limitless.  And he was part of it.  So are we. 


So we'll see each other tomorrow-face to face.  Dust to dust.  I hope to look you in the eyes and tell you the truth, which will be heard as Good News.  And if you are wondering about bringing children, bring them.  We have two services (10:30 am and 7 pm), two opportunities to be humbled.  The service isn't long, and it is simple-while also starkly honest.  And if we have lots of kids, I'll make sure to direct part of the homily toward them.


"Remember that you are . . . "

                                       Bill's Signature

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