An Open and Affirming, Just Peace Congregation in Columbia, Maryland

CUCC Newsletter






Pastor’s Pondering

(Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash)

The Beauty of Dirt on Our Faces

In two weeks, liturgically inclined Christian congregations and denominations will recognize the beginning of Lent. And, at least for a few hours of the day, we will wear the sign of the cross on our foreheads.

When I have received ashes in the past, and imposed them on others, they rarely look like a cross; in fact, one year a friend who wants nothing to do with faith, church, liturgy or religion said to me, “Let me get that dirt off your forehead.” That was the year it looked like I had just finished changing the car’s oil.“No, it’s okay,” I said. “It’s Ash Wednesday. I kind of like it.”

To be sure, as strange as it may sound, Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the year.  Because, in this serious, heavy, and overwhelming time in which we live, they remind me that it is a mistake to take myself too seriously. And, in fact, that has been one of my weaknesses for most of my life. From my earliest memories, I have wanted things to be “right.” And, realizing that much is out of alignment in our world (especially when it is plumbed with God’s dreams for us), I have pushed against the many injustices we see around us, and sometimes experience ourselves. Like you, I have stayed in the field with my hands firmly gripped on the plow, and sometimes, also like you, I have stayed in the field longer than I should have—at least for my own good.

Without sounding sacrilegious, sometimes my thoughts and actions do not bear witness to One greater than or beyond myself; instead, sometimes I think the earth hangs in the balance (or not) because of my actions or inactions. And, though in my more grounded moments I know that isn’t true, and recognizing I do have a part to play and to fulfill, ashes remind me that I am here for only a while. I’m not immortal, my resources are not unlimited; and I am, in fact, human.

As far as I can tell, when the Church started this Ash Wednesday business, it did so, in part, to make adherents of the Christian faith think of themselves as “a stench in God’s nostrils.” The goal, in part, was to remind human beings of their sinful natures and worthlessness.

Thankfully, we have progressed from that understanding, and we can choose to use one of the traditions of Church history in new ways. To be sure, in a perfectionist-seeking and highly demanding culture, there is a certain beauty in having dirt on our faces.



Upcoming Events




Annual CUCC Auction is Saturday Evening, April 27:  To volunteer to help with our annual auction, contact Matthew Bucksell  (

What to do now:

  • Put the date on your calendar
  • Plan to attend
  • Use your imagination and consider what you may want to donate for the auction:
    • Lunches, dinners, other events
      • e.g. hike and lunch, cards and canapes
    • Gift cards that you haven’t used
      • e.g. restaurants, Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Amazon
    • A gift basket of goodies
      • e.g. all the ingredients for cookies or baking bread
    • A skill that you have
      • e.g. carpentry, home repair or meal prep
    • A service you can provide
      • e.g. babysitting, computer help or setting up a new iPhone
    • Gather donations from your favorite stores
FREE MARDI GRAS JAZZ CONCERT!  A free community, jazz-inspired Mardi Gras program, followed by a New Orleans-style procession and hors d’oeuvre, will be 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1 at St. Louis Church, Clarksville. The repertoire features excerpts of Bob Chilcott’s “Little Jazz Mass” with the St. Louis Choir, sets by Aleks Izotov Trio and D.C. vocalist Lena Seikaly, plus surprise guest artists performing popular American Songbook classics. The performance requires no ticket, but best seating first-come. Please let us know if you’d like us to reserve seats for this program. For more information and directions, visit or call 410-531-6040


Come to the Beach for Work Weekend, April 5-7, 2019, Christian Church Conference Center, Bethany Beach, DE 19930:  We hope that you can find the time to give us a hand in maintaining one of the Region’s most precious resources.  Join us … Please! We need electricians, carpenters, and painters to continue to rejuvenate our Center’s buildings. We have drywall to patch, windows glass to replace, windows and doors to rescreen, and painting. Food and lodging (Sat 3-meals/Sun Breakfast) are provided to our volunteers. For more information

Let us know the number of volunteers with you and your arrival/departure dates. We need your RSVP for lodging and meal arrangements by Tues April 2nd.  RSVP to or 302-604-9242

In Our Community

On March 10th, Earth Forum welcomes Dr. Wayne Higgins:  Fourth National Climate Assessment: Earth Forum, held at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, 9325 Presbyterian Circle, Columbia, MD  21045, is open to all interested persons and is free of charge. Childcare is provided for infants and toddlers–call 410-730-3545 for more information.

At The Interfaith Center

Tonight’s Program at Columbia Baptist Fellowship is Cancelled! The weather today is for snow followed by icing. Because of this, we’ve decided to cancel dinner and postpone our evening program. The Howard County Library presentation of “UNDESIGN THE REDLINE” has been rescheduled to next Wednesday evening, February 27th (dinner at 5:30, program at 6:15), in room 200 at OMI.  Please stay warm and safe!

Mardi Gras:  From Carol Jo Roeder at the Hospitality Center – Celebrate Mardi Gras on February 25th – weather permitting! Date: 02/25/2019 (Mon.) Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm EST Location: Oakland Mills IFC. Use this link to view the online sign up sheet.

The Meeting House Gallery (5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia MD, announces the opening of its next exhibition, “The Nature of Four Artists” from Feb. 2 through April 6, 2019. The exhibition features work by Marty Barrick (oil), Maryann DellaRocco (acrylic, colored pencil), Matt Fenton (oil and watercolor), and Tara S. Holl (mixed media).

Meet the artists at a reception with light refreshments and live music on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019 from 1:00-3:00 pm. The exhibition is free and open daily from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. The Gallery is closed on Federal holidays.