Poems and Prayers for Lent 4

Yet another for Ash Wednesday

At CSBC we are having a service for Ash Wednesday. Though we Baptists are not known for acknowledging days like this, we’ve embraced it as a way to prepare ourselves together for following Jesus to the cross. To be honest, we know it’s an arduous journey and we need all the help we can get!

It was these words of Walter Brueggeman, the Old Testament scholar, which a few years back first wetted my appetite for a more serious engagement with the tradition. And I am grateful.

Marked by Ashes
by Walter Brueggeman

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given,
or we have ever received.

This Wednesday dazzles us with gift
and newness and possibility.

This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day,
for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back,
half frazzled,
half expectant,
half turned toward you,
half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes,
dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality
as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
 some confidence,
only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory
over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you
—you Easter parade of newness.

Before the sun sets,
take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.

Come here and Easter our Wednesday
with mercy and justice
and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

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