Purple, not flowers, Peeps

20 February 2021
Goss Avenue Kroger
Louisville, Kentucky
not even purple entices me to eat Peeps

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Tonight We Remember

An Ash Wednesday sermon – February 17, 2021
preached at the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Queens

Beloved people of God,
every year at Easter
we celebrate the new possibilities
God provides through the life, the death,
and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent, we prepare for this celebration
and the renewal it brings to our lives.

For many years we have begun
Our Lenten journey with ashes,
often made by burning the palms from the year before.
Mixed with a little oil,
the ashes are traced on our foreheads
in the sign of a cross.

This year we physically distance
while we spiritually gather one Christ,
I, as the pastor, will not impose ashes.
If you have received ashes
in the congregation’s Lenten worship bag or
if you have gathered “loose dust” from in or around your home,
and you would like to use the dust or ash
to make the sign of the cross  
on your head or hand,
we will pause to allow you to do that.
We will take a minute of silence,
which my friend the Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes reminds us
is an eternity of silence for Presbyterians.
You may also decide to impose the sign of the cross
later in the service – when the sermon gets boring, for example.

Whether we impose the sign of the cross or not,
dust and ashes will play a role in our service.
I invite you to take the ashes you received
or the loose dust you have gathered.
If you have neither, image ashes and dust you have seen.
Look at them.
Consider them.
Think about one of their functions
in Ash Wednesday services.

Ashes, loose dust
jog our memories.
They help us remember what is;
they help us remember what will be.

Tonight we remember.

We remember our mortality.
From dust God makes us.
In the marvelous words of James Weldon Johnson:
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
God kneeled down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till God shaped it in God’s own image;
Then into it God blew the breath of life,
And the human became a living soul.

We come from dust.
To dust we will return.
We are mortal. Limited. Finite.
One day our time on earth will end
our race will finish,
our part in God’s great story will close,
the final curtain will fall

and God will welcome us.

Tonight we remember.
We remember our need for repentance.
We remember how we fall short.
How we hurt one another.
How we tolerate social injustice.
How we wound God’s good creation.
How by our actions
and by our failures to act,
we break the heart of God.
We remember our need to turn and follow Jesus Christ
more faithfully this and every day.

Tonight we remember.
We remember those who have gone before us.
We remember people we knew and loved fiercely.
We remember people we never met but whose stories we have learned.
We remember people whose stories have never been told.
In this age of COVID-19, we remember countless people,
who have died from this pandemic.
We remember people killed by the state and racism.
People whose God-given breath was taken from them.
Whether we remember names or not,
we remember each person was and is a beloved child of God,

Tonight we remember.
the unending mercy of God,
the unbreakable grace of God,
the unflagging patience of God.
We remember the incredible love of God
who refuses to give up on us,
and who persistently awaits our return
eager to pour the Holy Spirit afresh upon us
that we might make a fresh start.

Tonight we remember.
that Lent is a time to give up.
Perhaps, like my friend the Rev. Gradye Parsons,
we make a supreme spiritual sacrifice
and give up kale.
More realistically, we seek to give up
that which truly separates and distracts us from God.

Tonight we remember.
that Lent is a time to stand up.
A time to
remove all yokes of injustice,
disrupt prejudice and systems of oppression,
feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
visit the sick and the imprisoned
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted.
A time to:
raise the foundations of many generations
repair breaches
restore the streets.
Following Jesus, we stand up in Lent.
We stand up to love.

Tonight, my friend the Rev. Shawna Bowman reminds me,
that as we begin the Lenten journey
of repenting and turning back to God
of prayer and fasting
of commemorating Jesus’ journey to death – and beyond,
we remember.
We “are all made from the same dust
That busted forth at the birthplace of creation,
And [we] belong, In life and in death,
to the one who calls [us] beloved.
[We] belong to God.”
And whatever challenges life brings
and however we may fall short,
God, who raises Jesus from the dead,
will have the final word.
And God’s word will be a word of
love and
life and
hope and
joy.

Tonight we remember.
Thanks be to God.

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Filed under Easter, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Lent

So, dusty

Friends –
we are dust.
But do you not know
have you not seen
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
All of creation
every blessed creature,
every amazing facet,
every wonderful human being
you and me and all of us,
made from dust by God.
Made from dust and beloved of God.
So Dusty, if I may call us each that.
Go Dusty,
go and live.
Go and love kindness.
Go and do justice.
Go and walk this Lenten journey humbly with God.
Know, Dusty, that
the love of God
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the peace and fellowship of the Holy Spirit
are with us now and forever.
Amen.
17 February 2021
inspired by a blessing from Jan Richardson

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10 February 2021

Walking. Apartment.
Bye & Bye/Saints – Gregg Stafford & Dr. Michael White
Long Tall Sally – Little Richard
Do I Move You – Nina Simone
Coco Chanel – Nicki Minaj (feat. Foxy Brown)
U Don’t Have 2 Worry – 2Pac
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
Down to Zero – Joan Armatrading
Potato Head Blues – Louis Armstrong
That’s Alright – Ranky Tanky
Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing – Stevie Wonder
Me, Myself And I – Billie Holiday
Once Upon a Time – Mary Wells & Marvin Gaye
Black Is – The Last Poets
Tomorrow – Brittany Howard
Whole World – Bobby McFerrin & Esperanza Spalding
I’m On My Way to Freedom Land -Sweet Honey In the Rock
Mama’s Cryin’ Long – Our Native Daughters

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5 February 2021

Stretching. Gym in the apartment. NK Body Philosophy.
Trayvon Martin – Watoto from the Nile
Don’t Believe the Hype – Public Enemy
Renegades of Funk – Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force
Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.
Colors – Ice-T
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman
Control – Janet Jackson
Proud to Be Black – Run-DMC
Lavi Difisil – Our Native Daughters
He Loves Me – Brittany Howard
(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going To Go 7:51 Curtis Mayfield
I’m On My Way to Freedom Land – Sweet Honey In the Rock
Stand Your Ground – Pharoahe Monch
Super Life – Chaka Khan Funk
Rest in Power – Black Thought

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3 February 2021, part deux

Walking. Germantown. Annual Chocolate 5K run/walk event to raise funds for the student emergency fund at Delaware Tech.
Changes – Adina Nyree
A Change Is Gonna Come – The Neville Brothers
Change – Christina Aguilera
We Can Change The World – Graham Nash
Change – Black 47
See The Changes – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Changes – David Bowie
A Change In The Weather – Eric Bogle
Changes In Lattitudes – Jimmy Buffett
Change – Melissa Etheridge
Cold Cold Change – Midnight Oil
A Change Would Do You Good – Sheryl Crow
Change Of The Guard – Steely Dan
Change It – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Change – Tracy Chapman
Changes – 2Pac & Talent

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3 February 2021

Stretching. Some strength work. Gym in the Apartment. NK Body Philosophy.
People Get Ready – The Impressions
Soul Man – Sam & Dave
Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud, Pt. 1 – James Brown
Think – Aretha Franklin
Everyday People – Sly & The Family Stone
The Klan – Richie Havens
Friendship Train – Gladys Knight & The Pips
Shadows of Society – Diana Ross & The Supremes
The Ghetto – Donny Hathaway
Alabama – John Coltrane Quartet
Freedom – Charles Mingus
Mississippi Goddam – Nina Simone
Dancing In the Street – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
Polly Ann’s Hammer – Our Native Daughters
Virtuoso – Black Violin
Run Mourner, Run – Fannie Lou Hamer

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2 February 2021

Stretching. Gym in the apartment. NK Body Philosophy.
Go Down, Moses – Paul Robeson
Wade In The Water – The Blind Boys Of Alabama
This Little Light of Mine – “I’m Gonna Let It Shine” Choir
Eyes On the Prize (Live) – Mavis Staples
The Bourgeois Blues – Lead Belly
Brown Eyed Handsome Man – Chuck Berry
Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday
No More Auction Block – Kim & Reggie Harri
Poor Man’s Blues – Bessie Smith The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 Blues 0 2
Oh Freedom – Sweet Honey In the Rock
My Lord, What a Morning – Marian Anderson (feat. Franz Rupp)
Stille Tränen, Op. 32, No. 10 – Marian Anderson & Franz Rupp
Black and Blue – Ain’t Misbehavin’
There Is a Balm In Gilead – The Florida A&M University Concert Choir
Deep River – The Howard University Chamber Choir
Steal Away – The Princely Players
Pick a Bale of Cotton – Fannie Lou Hamer

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1 February 2021

Stretching. Gym in the apartment. NK Body Philosophy.
Let America Be America Again By Langston Hughes – James Earl Jones
At the Purchaser’s Option – Rhiannon Giddens
Wade In the Water – The Fisk Jubilee Singers
Juneteenth – Cast of Black-ish
Have A Talk With God – Stevie Wonder
New World Symphony – Earth, Wind & Fire
Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning – Fannie Lou Hamer
Forward – Beyoncé (feat. James Blake)
Great Day – Kim&Reggie Harris
Moving On – Sweet Honey In The Rock
This Little Light of Mine – “I’m Gonna Let It Shine” Choir
He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands – Odetta
I’m Just a Slave – The Roots
Everytime I Feel the Spirit – The Florida A&M University Concert Choir
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Don’t Want to Get Away – Carter Anderson
Handsome Johnny – Richie Havens
Better Git Yer Learnin’ – Our Native Daughters
For What It’s Worth – Keb’ Mo’
Nobody Knows When You’re Down And Out – Bessie Smith

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31 January 2021

Walking. Apartment. Germantown.
Aura Aurealis – R. Carlos Nakai
Silver – Ric Ocasek
Bluebird – Buffalo Springfield
Intuition – Frances Black
Thorn In Your Side – namoli brennet
Julie – Rhiannon Giddens
The Fly – U2
The Promised Land – Bruce Springsteen
Old College Avenue – Harry Chapin
On Cats Feet – Michael Collin Soundtrack
Globe All Warming – Niyorah
You Gotta Feel It – Little Richard
Manifiesto – Victor Jara Manifiesto

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