Ash Wednesday

Image by TC_Perch on Pixabay

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. In the stillness, stir in me a deeper sense of your love that invites me to come as I am with all that I bring. As we reflect together, may your unconditional welcome open my heart to  you and may I rest there.

Reflection
As we journey through Lent,
we do so slowly, purposefully.
May our senses be awakened
as we mindfully walk towards the cross and then the empty tomb,
attuned to the Lord’s voice.
What do we hear on the way when we encounter brokenness within ourselves and others in the gospel story?
We pause to notice and to contemplate,
to do as Walter Burghardt SJ writes, “to take a long, loving look at the real.”
We take our time in order to genuinely see.
We do this mindful of God’s unconditional love for us.
We look with honesty, not to beat ourselves up, but to seek forgiveness and wholeness.
We listen for God’s invitation to us said with love.

Lectio Divina, which means Divine Reading, is a spiritual practice done with scripture. It isn’t so much that we read scripture as that scripture reads us. We approach scripture prayerfully and ask God to speak to us through it.
Read the scripture through slowly four times. The first time just read it through.
The second time notice if there is a word or phrase that shimmers or that you are drawn to.
The third time notice if there is an invitation from God to you. Let your heart respond.
The fourth time, as you read it, simply rest in the Word.

Scripture: Psalm 51:1-3, 10-12
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”

Prayer for Ash Wednesday
Lord, I come as I am
As I do, I present myself
before you
Offering
My grief and pain
My inward wanderings and outward failures
My despair and seemingly powerlessness to change
My hopes dashed and my poor reflection
I offer you the cracked vessel that I am
Knowing you welcome it all in your potter’s hands
You remold and make me
Seeing what I cannot see
The value in me
As one created in your image
And deeply loved by you.
You remind me that it is through the cracks
That the light gets in
It is through the cracks
That your light shines.*
So help me to listen to and embrace my shadow
For it has much to teach me.
I offer myself to you with the ashes and cracks
Knowing transformation lies within your hands.

Closing Prayer
Lord, help us on our lenten journey to walk slowly and purposefully. Help us to hear and notice you. Enable us to see through your eyes your grace that heals, restores, and renews. May your presence be palpable as we mindfully walk the way to the cross with you. Amen.

*Musician Leonard Cohen wrote these lyrics in his song “Anthem”:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

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