Lighting the fire

palm burning 2014

Yesterday after our 8:30 liturgy, we began the final few days of preparation for Lent by burning the palms from last year, making the ashes that will mark our foreheads this Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is one of the most well-attended liturgies of the year, perhaps an indication that all of us realize somewhere deep inside that we are in need of conversion.

The parish will begin reading and discussing Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line. I’ve only read a few chapters of the book so far, but in those few pages I’ve encountered a great deal of food for thought. We live in a world that often stresses differences–and not in a positive way. Rabbi Abie Ingber, in speaking to my students at Xavier University, says that we need to move from tolerance to celebration. We tolerate an itch. We  celebrate human beings, made in the image and likeness of God. Graced encounters.

As we read and fast and pray this Lent, may we grow in our appreciation of the diversity of God’s creation and learn to sing a new song to the Lord.

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