Archive for ash wednesday

.::We Are Dust: Ash Wednesday

Posted in church, disciplines, Life, Ministry, spiritual disciplines, Theology with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Walter

Today in the world of Christendom, most people will be observing Ash Wednesday.  It is a good and necessary liturgy that takes the participant back to three very important truths:

1.  “Remember that you are but dust”–In other words, we are CREATED beings, we are NOT the Creator.  One must regularly be reminded that we are not God.  We are brought back to Genesis 1 when God digs up a handful of clay from the earth and breathes his Spirit of Life within us.  The only value we possess is that value which God gives to us, for we are but dust

2.  “And to dust you shall return.”:  We must also remember that we are finite beings.  We are not unlimited in our ability, giftedness, resources, etc.  There was a time when we did not exist and there will come a time when we shall cease to exist on this earth.  This is a call in the liturgy to keep one from getting to big for their britches.

3.  We are Fallen: One of the dangers in not being taken to the places an Ash Wednesday service takes you is that we might far too easily forget that we are fallen beings in desperate needs of God’s Amazing and Infinite Grace.  Ash Wednesday is that Prologue to Lent that allows us to enter into a season of sacrifice, reflection, repentance so that by the time we have journeyd past Palm Sunday, through Calvary and tragedy of Good Friday we can truly celebrate that “He. Is. Risen!”

Plus, which one of us is not guilty of at least one of these transgressions that Ash Wednesday invites us to confess?:

“We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.”

“REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN”

May you have a rich and reflective Lenten Season this year.

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.::Ash Wednesday

Posted in church, Ministry, Theology with tags , , , on February 25, 2009 by Walter

Opening Prayer for Ash Wednesday Service From the Book of Common Prayer:

“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have

made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and

make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily

lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,

may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission

and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever

and ever. Amen.

Today is Ash Wednesday were most of Christendom enters in to the season of Lent by reflecting on one’s falleness, one’s sin, one’s mortality.  It is a somber, dark, service that lacks significant joy YET it allows for joy to be in our lives. There is a prayer that I love in the service that says:

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Robert Benson makes the comment that Liturgy takes us to places that we would rarely CHOOSE to go ourselves and Ash Wednesday is one of those liturgies that speaks to this fact.

How often would we really choose to reflect on our sin?

How often would we choose to think of our mortality?

How often would we really want to admit that we are fallen?

How often would we really admit that we are NOT God?

When you receive the ashes in the service the following phrase is uttered:

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

While this is not the most uplifting thing to utter, it does remind you that 1.  You are NOT God and 2. That we are going to die one day.

One of those things that we all need to be reminded of from time to time or else we will find ourselves too big for our britches.