Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season – it’s a holy day of prayer, fasting and reflection. Ashes are an outward symbol of a repentance of sins, and UCC along with other churches in the U.S., U.K. and Canada took the opportunity to promote the visibility of progressive, affirming Christians through glitter ashes.
Christianity is often portrayed as intolerant to the LGBTQ community, but there are many Christians who are using this day to not only make a statement of repentance but one of hope. Glitter has been a key symbol in the queer community and has displayed grit, courage and the power to flourish. By combining glitter with ashes, progressive Christians are alerting the world to love not to hate and to empower rather than hurt one another.
UCC participated in the Glitter Ashes movement by oferring both regular ashes and glitter ashes to those passing by their courtyard, sparking a flame of hope on campus. Chelsea McCutchin, the minister spearheading UCC’s glitter ashes, said, “It is a day that will keep me fed for a long time. It was beautiful, intimate, funny, touching, physical and all the REAL things that I don’t feel like we get enough of. The work that we did on Ash Wednesday is real mission work—trying to get folks in the doors here, but more importantly, getting folks from in here OUT there.”
St. Augustine taught that we cannot despair because despair paralyzes, thwarting repentance and impeding the change that we are called to make. Glitter + Ashes beautifully represents the relationship between death and new life – actively showcasing the true meaning of Christianity. Christ taught us to love, learn, witness and work for injustice and acceptance. That is why we offered glitter ashes on Ash Wednesday – to fulfill Christ’s calling to love and care for one another.
Thanks to everyone who helped in the execution of this new Ash Wednesday tradition, those who are participated sung high praises:
I am so glad I was able to help for just a portion of the afternoon. Loved the students that were thankful they had a chance to be blessed with ashes and the ones that just let me smile at them My prayer will be going out for the student that is an atheist, but she wanted to learn why we do Ash Wed and even received ashes! My heart will also be praying another student that seemed raw in the need for Jesus to wash over her and seemed relieved to have Chelsea bless her. – Amy G
Thank YOU, Chelsea, for bringing this priceless ministry opportunity to us!! Your gladness was contagious, and your rainbow stole spoke volumes!! I will not forget the young person who asked so seriously if we were giving ashes, and then after we put them on him and said our words, thanked us and said so seriously, ‘I really needed this.’ — Becca K.