Grace Notes in the Desert

Grace Notes in the Desert is written for the saints of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church and the surrounding community.

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Grace Notes acknowledges we need God's grace and forgivness as much as the desert water.



While a student at Princeton Theological Seminary (25 years ago already), a friend gave me a book by Wendell Berry called “The Unsettling of America” and inscribed inside these words: “Remember: we are animated dirt.”

In a sense, this is what the Church calls us to remember in seasons like Lent (literally, lengthening of days). As the days grow longer and brighter, we have this somber yet amazing time to reflect, anew, how we are dust and to dust we shall return yet, God, in God’s grace, continues to create, recreate and renew, not only us, dusty as we are, but the face of the earth.

Seasons like Lent remind us not only of our mortality but God’s grace that makes us more than earthen clods, but who we are intended to be: Christ’s friends made new to shine in a worn and weary world.

We don’t always do this, live brightly. A lot of times we hide. We pretend. We fear true, authentic, transparent life. But, seasons like Lent remind us not only of our weakness and mortality as human beings--the ways we’re subject to weather and temptation--but how we have this promise and possibility of new life, real life, resurrected life, in Jesus Christ.

Poet Mark Strand put it this way, in a poem to his daughter:

“…Jessica, it is so much easier/to think of our lives/as we move under the brief luster of leaves/loving what we have/than to think how it is that such small beings as we/travel in the dark…/Yet there were times I remember/…when I could believe/we were the children of stars/…with the same dust that flames in space.”*

I hope you will join us for an Ash Wednesday Worship Service, Wednesday, March 9, 7:00 pm, here, in Rio Grande’s sanctuary, to remember how we are both dust and, by God’s grace, God’s people meant to shine.

Yours in Christ’s Service,
A Pastor in the Desert

*from Mark Strand’s Selected Poems