Welcome…to Lent. This journey is one of remembrance, of reflection, and of repentance. As we open ourselves up to God’s invitations, may we find ourselves continually transformed and deepened in faith and love. For the next 40 days, you will receive a daily reflection–to center us all, so that we might pause in anticipation and hopeful expectation for the breath of life and grace that resurrection hope brings. Some reflections will be written by members of our community, and some from without so as to open us to other voices who can speak words of life into our community. Together may we, as a community, live in the space of already/not yet of resurrection hope, and with prayerful humility ask God’s Spirit to come and fill us. Welcome to the Lenten Journey.
TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE IN GOD’S PRESENCE as you begin.
Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
REFLECTION From Jan Richardson
Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust? When I wrote these words as part of an Ash Wednesday blessing a few years ago, I could not have imagined how much I would need those words for myself, and how soon. Gary died later that year, just as the season of Advent was beginning. In the devastation, the question I had posed in that Ash Wednesday blessing would return to me, coming both to challenge and console. Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?
We are entering the season that begins with a smudge. That smudge is a testimony to what survives. It is a witness to what abides when everything seems lost. It is a sign that what we know and love may, for a time, be reduced to dust, but it does not disappear. We belong to the God who well knows what to do with dust, who sees the dust as a place to dream anew, who creates from it again and again.
Life will continually lay us bare, sometimes with astonishing severity. In the midst of this, the season of Lent invites us to see what is most elemental in us, what endures: the love that creates and animates, the love that cannot be destroyed, the love that is most basic to who we are. This season inspires us to ask where this love will lead us, what it will create in and through us, what God will do with it in both our brokenness and our joy.
BLESSING THE DUST
All those days
you felt like dust,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
PRAYER. God, thank you that you meet us in the depths of our humanity and brokenness, and that your promise of resurrection hope brings us life. May we, may I, be a people of the dust, open to the new life that your Spirit will breathe on me and us in these 40 days. Yes and amen to the blessing of the ashes and dust.
TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE as you close.