Improv on 1 Corinthians 13 for Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day

If I speak in tongues of justice or spirituality,
but do not have ashes,
I am a self-congratulating vigil,
a Sunday service inspired by itself.
If I have social media outreach,
a labyrinth in the church garden,
Bible study in the brew-pub,
and, if I have a capital campaign
to remove pews, put in church chairs,
and even add a coffee shop,
but do not have ashes, I am nothing.
If I give to church-wide offerings,
and go on mission trips so that I may boast,
but do not have ashes, I gain nothing.

Ashes are awkward; ashes are dirty;
ashes, like love,
are not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude.
Ashes do not insist on a perfect Lent;
they do not even need to be in church
or a gimmick to get folks to church;
they do not inventory wrongdoing,
especially the wrongdoing of others,

but rejoice in the precious now,
the very fragility of life.

Ashes bear love, believe in love,
hope in the possibility
of forgiveness for everyone,
endure even times of lovelessness.

Forgiveness never ends.
As for spiritual practices,
they will come to an end;
as for both the precious hymn
and the passionate praise song,
they will grow quiet;
as for theology and faith formation,
believe me, they will change again.

For churches are always reaching
for a part of things,
while those who flee church
reach for another part,
but, when the full forgiveness comes —
it will look more like Valentine’s Day.

When I was a child, I said “I love you.”
I cut out pink and red hearts,
and gave them to everyone, even the bullies,
but when I became an adult,
I decided to make it more complicated.

Now in our churches and lives
we have become too fond of mirrors,
but some day we will see —
face to smudged face.
Now I love only in part;
then I will love fully,
even as I have been fully loved.

Today ashes, dust, and paper abide,
these three;
but the greatest of these makes a heart.

(written for my fabulous New Hampshire School of Ministry class)

 

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7 Responses to Improv on 1 Corinthians 13 for Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day

  1. Andrea Stoeckel says:

    O My Maren! Reposted on IG. I wish everyone could hear this

  2. Maren says:

    Thank you so much, Andrea!

  3. Reblogged this on Let the Spirit In and commented:
    This is beautiful!

    When I was a child, I said “I love you.”
    I cut out pink and red hearts,
    and gave them to everyone, even the bullies,
    but when I became an adult,
    I decided to make it more complicated.

  4. Not only are we too fond of mirrors – we often have our eyes too often on screens as well! Love the part about seeing each other face to face again.

    • Maren says:

      Even as I am looking at my computer screen to answer you I am so aware of how that have become “competition” to so many ways we should connect with people.

  5. Pingback: Child of Dust ::: Child of God – The Edge

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