Friday, February 16 Reading--Genesis 3:19: "You are dust, and to dust you shall return."
The morning Ash Wednesday service took place at the Chapel, where I imposed ashes on congregants while a new deacon served Holy Communion by intinction--people tore off a piece of pita bread and dipped it in the chalice of juice before partaking. Which led to the deacon's sensible question after worship: "What do you do with the extra juice?"
I explained that in our Reformed Protestant tradition, we don't consider the bread or juice to become the physical presence of Christ, so I am not required to drink all the juice. Instead, I tend to dispose of the juice in a respectful manner.
After the deacon left and I had the bread and juice sitting there on the communion table, I was at a momentary loss as to what I should do with the juice. Then I remembered the words I said as I imposed ashes on foreheads and knew what to do. I walked outside the chapel and turned left, entering our church's Memorial Garden, where the ashes of two dozen or so people have been poured into the earth. "The body of Christ shed for you...Remember that you are dust and to dust you have returned, but in confident hope of the resurrection into eternal life. Amen."
Now I am thinking not only of those whose ashes have returned to the earth at the garden, but also the 17 people who died in Parkland, Florida, and all those who have died in Milford over the years. I think of the first Milford settlers buried behind the house on 67 Prospect Street and the honor I wish for that ground, not because they are still there in spirit but because the world seems intent on ignoring death, and if we ignore death then by implication we ignore the power of God in the resurrection of Easter.
Let us pray: God, grant us the recognition that we are mortals, but that you give us hope for eternal life, through Jesus Christ, Amen.
First United Church of Christ
34 West Main Street
Milford, CT 06460
All are welcome at First Church! As an inclusive community of God's children, we affirm the radical welcome and hospitality of the United Church of Christ; No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here!
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