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March 2017 Newsletter


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We are SAND Ash Wednesday and Lent are upon us. On March 1 at 3pm we gather for worship at Zion. While it is of course a work day, most of us are retired, especially those who might choose to attend an Ash Wednesday service. So let’s try this. Tell you what: If you want administration of ashes at some other time on Ash Wednesday, call me. I’ll show up to do it in some public place at a specified time which meets your schedule. Throughout our Lenten worship we will use the metaphor of glass, reflecting through the Psalms. Mary and I just returned from Saint Simon’s Island, Georgia. That’s where John and Charles Wesley landed to begin an adventure of missionary work in the new world. Charles was to be Governor Oglethorpe’s Minister of Indian Affairs, and John was to be pastor of the fledgling new congregation in the Savannah settlement. It didn’t go so well. John got smitten on the Mayor’s daughter. She spurned him. He forbade her to take communion. Oglethorpe sent John packing, and Charles left with him. On the boat home they met some Moravians who demonstrated deep and emotional trust in God. Just a few months later, back in England, both John and Charles experienced the touch of the Holy Spirit, had their hearts “strangely warmed.” The rest is history. Life crises become for us the opportunities for spiritual growth and transformation. That’s why even when I find so many are experiencing anxiety through this current governmental transition, I can be hopeful. We are forced to examine our culture and examine ourselves. Then we make new choices. Even presidents of The United States can do that. Life is too short for us to waste energy judging, when instead we can exude hope and love, and work for positive change. Every time we go to the beach Mary pulls off her shoes and walks in the shore spray, squishes her toes in the sand. I look out across the water and ponder. The sea is so vast. Even the beach is vast. We can’t begin to count the number of grains of sand. Scripture tells us God knows. Sand is silicone. Glass is melted and formed silicone: fired and tempered, shaped and made useful: glass panes, glass bowls, glass test tubes, glass medical instruments, glass jewelry, glass artwork. The list of possible uses seems as countless as the grains of sand, some to be invented still. On Ash Wednesday we say, “We are dust, and to dust we shall return.” Ash is the final form of carbon. Our bodies are 18% carbon. We are 75% water, so we come from the ocean and flow back to it. Have you thought, that we are also sand? The other 7% of our body composition consists of the ‘solid’ elements which make up silicone: phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, Sulphur, sodium. Many of us these days are choosing to cremate the remains of our loved ones. Then we take the ‘ashes’ to ‘sprinkle’ in some meaningful place, maybe even the ocean. It’s NOT mostly ASH, but FLAKE. Flakes of silicone. Tiny fragments of our bone. To the SAND we also return. So, God the Creator makes us into GLASS. And lets us help in the creating. Rev. Mark Harvey

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