Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. Some Christians have marked themselves with ashes/dirt as a reminder of our humanity. Our mortality is a great equalizer. Death is part of all life. The ashes are also a sign of repentance. We are broken and need God’s grace. We have been hurt and we hurt. The ashes are marked on our foreheads in the shape of the cross to remind us of God’s love, not just for us but for all.
It is these acknowledgements of our connectedness, our imperfection, and God’s love that has allowed us to embrace the addition of glitter to the ashes (which are simply the burned palms from Palm Sunday).
As a church that recognizes the full inclusion and welcome of members of the LGBT+ community, we look to the words of Rev. Elizabeth Edman, author of “Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know about Life and Love and How it Can Revitalize Christianity”, about glitter ashes. She writes:
Mixing glitter into ashes is an act of profound love and respect. Glitter is an inextricable element of queer history. It is how queer people have long displayed our gritty, scandalous hope. Making ourselves fabulously conspicuous, we have refused to surrender to those who, in the name of piety or power, have worked overtime to keep us invisible.
Glitter ashes connect us to who we are. We are cis, hetero, LGBT+; we are broken; we have hurt ourselves and others (as individuals and as church); but most importantly we are loved by God. ALL of us are loved by God.