It's a black smudge.
Kind of looks like a cross. You can't unsee it.
It tells everyone in your world -- in the office, at the grocery store, walking down the street: I'm a Christian.
This can feel weird if you are left of center. You kind of want an asterisk on that smudge: "I'm not what you probably think. Really. I believe in pluralism and science and LGBTQ people. Did you notice my NPR tote bag?"
Ash Wednesday is as visible as some of us ever get. But it isn't enough. Too many people are being hurt by "fake Christian news" -- teachings that run directly counter to the Gospel.
This Ash Wednesday
March 1, 2017
Progressive, Queer-positive Christians will come out
as the kind of Christians we are.
WE WILL BE SEEN
Yeah, we'll get ashes -- with a bit of glitter.
Glitter is like love. It’s irresistible and irrepressible. Any contact and it’s all over you. Try to get rid of it? You can’t. Want to put it back in the bottle? Good luck!
WE WILL TELL THE TRUTH
Ashes are an in-your-face statement that death and suffering are real.
The glitter will be a sign of our hope, which does not despair.
The glitter will signal our promise to repent, to show up, to witness, to work.
Glitter never gives up -- and neither do we.
THEY'LL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE
And by that big ol' glittery/ashy smudge on our foreheads.
Ready to jump into #GlitterAshWednesday?
Immigrants denied re-entry to the U.S.
Nationalism, overt racism, and queerphobia running rampant
And way too many Christians giving tacit consent.
THE NEED FOR PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN WITNESS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE URGENT.
Glitter is an inextricable element of queer history. It is how we have always displayed our gritty, scandalous hope. We make ourselves fabulously conspicuous, giving offense to the arbiters of respectability that allow coercive power to flourish.
Glitter+Ash is an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a season of repentance. During Lent, Christians look inward and take account in order to move forward with greater health. At this moment in history, glitter ashes will be a powerful reminder of St. Augustine’s teaching that we cannot despair because despair paralyzes, thwarting repentance and impeding the change that we are called to make.
Glitter+Ash exquisitely captures the relationship between Ash Wednesday and Easter -- which is the relationship between death and new life. We do not live in fear of ash - of death - we place it on our foreheads for the world to see. We know that fear will rise, cramping our hearts. We also know that God specifically calls us not to project that fear onto the Other, the alien, the stranger in our midst. God insists that we look for the spark of life, of hope, in ourselves and one another. This Ash Wednesday, we will make that spark easier to see. As Christians, we will witness to the gritty, glittery, scandalous hope that exists in the very marrow of our tradition.
- Plan to get ashes early on Ash Wednesday and wear them throughout the day.
- Find a place to get ashes.
- Or Organize a Glitter+Ash Site yourself
If you belong to a church, contact your priest or pastor to see if they are holding an Ash Wednesday service or an “Ashes To Go” event in a nearby public space. Ask if they will be offering glitter ashes (and direct them here if they have no idea what that is!). If they are participating, GO, and bring friends!
Choose a Lenten Action
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. It’s common for people to “give something up” for Lent. It is also entirely appropriate to take something on for Lent. Usually this is called a Lenten Discipline. Because Glitter+Ash is all about stepping up, we are suggesting that people commit to a Lenten Action: a specific action, chosen by you, to promote resurrection. We will each pledge to put energy into a cause that promotes life and health in the face of death-dealing forces in our world. Your action is between you and God. No one is going to check up on you. This isn’t about solving all the world’s problems at once, but simply identifying one thing that you are putting your energy into right now.
Spread the Word on Social Media
Make a super short video to let people know that you are getting Glitter+Ash. Tell us what your Lenten Action will be, and challenge some friends to do the same! Be sure to use the hashtag #GlitterAshWednesday.
Offering glitter ashes will present an opportunity to breathe fresh life into your liturgy, recapture the surprise in the Christian message, and draw new people into your worship. There are many options for how you might do this:
- Offer a designated “Glitter+Ash” service on Ash Wednesday
- Have a designated station for glitter ashes at one of your regular Ash Wednesday services
- Incorporate glitter ashes into an “Ashes To Go” type liturgy
Also, if you are interested in ordering Glitter+Ash Wednesday ashes, please click here to order your ashes today.
We will be posting suggestions for liturgy and prayers on this site in the coming week. Please sign up for alerts to get this material as it becomes available. If you are creating your own liturgy and would like to share it, please let us know!
Please note that Glitter+Ash has not been formally endorsed by any major denomination. Participating in this liturgical action may demand risk and require courage, as Christian witness is wont to do. May God be with you, and with us all.
If you don’t belong to a church or can’t find one that is offering ashes, you can organize your own Glitter+Ash event. Offering ashes is a simple act of penitence and worship that can be done by anyone -- you don’t need to be ordained. You will need:
- We will be posting instructions on how to impose ashes in the coming week, along with a handout that you can print and distribute to people who receive your Glitter+Ash on Ash Wednesday. Please sign up for our mailing list below to receive alerts to get these materials as they become available.
- A public place to offer glitter ashes, and a way to publicize it. We recommend joining forces with at least one or two other people to offer the ashes.
There is so much that can make it hard to be part of a larger spiritual movement. Maybe you know what it is to be spiritually bullied by a church. Maybe you've tried out more “progressive” churches, but the worship and the message were just too meh. Maybe you've experienced a deep loss or a level of suffering that makes it hard to believe there’s a God at all.
But here’s the thing: if you're reading this, maybe that's because you haven't given up. Maybe that little spark of the divine in you is looking for a place to come alive. Maybe it would help to put yourself in the path of something that feels true, that feels real.
Glitter+Ash didn’t start in a church. We are a group of people who are committed to justice for LGBTQ people and for so many others who have experienced spiritual violence. We are Christians who perceive a kind of queerness deep at work in our faith tradition. To us, this queerness [link to “About QV”] offers hope to the entire church. We think that if the church understood its queer calling better, the church would be healthier for everyone and our Christian witness would be more powerful -- in the pews, and on the street.
To us, the spirit of God is a real force in the world. We want to be part of actions and communities where that Spirit feels alive, powerful, potent. That’s the thinking behind Glitter+Ash. That’s the hope behind Glitter+Ash! If you feel the same way, we hope you’ll give Glitter+Ash a try.
This is the fundamental premise of Queer Virtue.
Christianity persistently calls the followers of Jesus to rupture, or queer, false binaries that pit us against each other. Queerness can be a powerful, clear lens for understanding what Christianity demands. Get more information about what Christians can learn from queerness and how queerness can revitalize the Christian tradition here.
#GlitterAshWednesday is a joint venture of Queer Virtue and Parity. Creative design by Alicia Fowler.