On Ash Wednesday, 22nd February, folks from Inclusive Gathering Birmingham will be offering Glitter+Ash Blessings in Hippodrome Square near the HIV & AIDs Memorial between 7 and 9pm.
You can receive a blessing in the traditional way (a cross mark on the forehead or hand). Alternatively, we will have stones painted with Glitter+Ash that you can take away with you and keep. These Glitter+Ash blessings are fully inclusive and are available to anyone who would like them, those of all faiths and none.
Glitter is like love. It’s irresistible and irrepressible.
Ashes are a statement that death and suffering are real.
Glitter is a sign of our hope, which does not despair.
Glitter signals our promise to repent, to show up, to witness, to work.
Glitter never gives up — and neither do we.
WHAT IS GLITTER+ASH WEDNESDAY?
Ash Wednesday is a day when Christians receive the mark of the cross on their foreheads to begin the 40 days of reflection and repentance in preparation for Easter.
Glitter Ashes lets the world know that we are progressive, queer-positive Christians. We are in the pews, in the pulpits and giving glitter ashes in the street to those who either may not have time to go to a church—or may have been rejected by a church.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
The public face of Christianity is often a face of intolerance — especially toward LGBTQia people. There are millions of Christians who believe that the Gospel commands us to love, not hate. Glitter ashes are a witness to an inclusive Christian message.
Glitter+Ash Wednesday started in New York City and spread from there. In the very first year over 200 churches and faith groups in 3 countries and 29 US states participated, though the reach was far beyond that, with international media reports that reached 200 million readers and viewers. Inclusive Gathering is excited to be offering Glitter+Ashes here in Birmingham this year!
Glitter is an inextricable element of queer history. It is how we have 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.
Glitter+Ash exquisitely captures 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. We will stand witness to the gritty, glittery, scandalous hope that exists in the very marrow of our tradition.
Inclusive Gathering Birmingham is a diverse, LGBTQIA+ affirming, justice-seeking church for all that meets upstairs at the Loft in Brum’s Gay Village every Sunday at 3pm. Details here. All are welcome!