Monday, February 8, 2016

Brueggemann on Ash Wednesday

During the season of Lent, we are encouraged to consider giving up something or taking up another.  We do so in the hope that this denial or this challenge will led us toward a change or awakening to something within us and deepening our journey with God.

As Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, I looked for a prayer that would help focus me on the day and I share it with you.  Dr. Walter Brueggemann is a retired seminary professor and greater preacher.  In more recent years, publishers have helped us find out what his classroom students already knew:  Walter writes incredible prayers for the classroom as well as the pulpit.  Below is a prayer he offered for Ash Wednesday:

Marked by Ashes
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. 
SOURCE: Prayers for a Privileged People  (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp. 27-28.

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