Ashes to Ashes: a Prayer

God, I’ve been living with ashes in my mouth for over a year now.

And though they are bitter and continue to color every single aspect of my day,

I find that I cannot spit them out. For you have put them there, Lord

Living with death is hard–it’s why family parlors became living rooms

It’s why death was exported from homes and churches to funeral homes

Because it’s tough to see just how fragile humanity is.

Is this like white fragility and male fragility? This mortality thing? Do we ignore it because we, mistakenly, think it makes us stronger?

And then in comes the Christ: an openly weeping male, here comes Christ who sits with the sick and the weak and the disabled and the young and the dying.

Here comes Christ, with dust in his hair and dust on his feet, and ashes in his mouth. Tasting his death for all three years of his ministry.

A taste, he too can’t spit out. A taste that when he tries to draw attention to it, or share it with his disciples, it is rejected.

How did it feel, Jesus, when Mary took a moment to sit with you in the dust, and to wash as much as it as she could off, and then to wipe it clean with her own hair? Mary–whose own brother had died–Mary was the one who was able to sit with you in the dust.

How did it taste, Lord? To drink the wine and eat the bread of resurrection, while the taste of ashes was probably at its’ strongest? Did Peter taste it? Or James or John? Did Matthew and Mark feel the grains upon their tongue? Was Luke aware of its dusty origin? Did Judas recognize the taste of death upon his tongue?

And that night in the garden, when the sand of sleep overpowered the disciples, did you feel the dust in the corner of your eyes? Did you wipe it away, or had you learned to live with it by then?

God, I’ve been living with ashes in my mouth all year, and we are going to enter the season of death, of ashes, of the dirty, dusty path to Jerusalem. And so I pray, that I learn to live and learn how to learn a little more from my own mortality.

I pray that some of the taste of ash is eased with the taste of the living waters of baptism and resurrection.

I’m tired of living with ashes on my tongue, God.

But here we are.

Help me to taste the truth and good news even among the ashes, I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Art by Beatrice Stenta

More Lenten Resources

Ash Wednesday Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer

Lord, you are the God of Ashes. So that when food tastes like dust upon the tongue, When we feel grubby and soiled, when we feel defeated—you’ve already been there. taking the long walk to death, walking grubby, dry-mouthed and alone. And you invite us, each and every year, to take the journey with you, so that neither of us are alone. You invite us to walk in our own stumbling way, with our own deaths. And you remind us—that we are but dust and to dust we will return. And it’s good to remember and process that fact. Because though we are dust, we are also the beloved siblings of Christ. And so, we will walk the path to Jerusalem together, because it is a journey worth taking. Be with us and we journey we pray, O God. Amen. 

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Ash Wednesday Prayers

Journeying towards Death

February 17th

Ash Wednesday

Jesus Turns to Jerusalem

Luke 9:51-62

Psalm 5:7-8:

Call to Worship

Who can follow you to Jerusalem Jesus?

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head

God, may we each find a sanctuary space today.

Let us begin the journey to Jerusalem with Jesus Christ today. 

The time for Lent and death stretches us before us.

Come let us walk with God today.

Invitation: God will give heed to our sighing, come let us bring our sighs to the Lord. 

Prayer of Confession: God our sighs are loud and our cries sound out. We feel trauma of these times. But we know, you long with us for our suffering to end. You do not delight in any wickedness. We confess that we do not know how to journey to Jerusalem with you. We are lost before the journey even begins. Help us to find the way we pray. Amen.  

Assurance of Pardon: God it is through the abundance of your steadfast love, I will enter your house. It is by the grace of God, that we can be assured of the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Lord, let us experience the ashes with all that they entail. Let the be the beginning of our relenting: of power, of materialism, of individual achievement over the good of the community. Let us relent to Lent we pray. Amen. 

Communion Prayer: Holy Spirit, come and inspire us for this journey. When it feels like forty days in the desert: fortify us with your bread and your cup. Imbue this meal with your Holy Spirit so we can be nourished for the journey. Remind us that when we celebrate Christ’s death, we are also celebrating his life and his resurrection. Give us what we need for this journey through Lent we pray. Amen. 

Hymns: In the Garden, Come Thou Fount of Ever Blessing, What Wondrous Love Is This, 

Taize: Jesus, Remember Me

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Ash Wednesday Narrative Lectionary based on Mark 9:30-37 Psalm 32:1-5

Jesus went with the disciples teaching them, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”

And the Disciples Kept silent.

Prayer of Confession: Lord we confess that we do not understand, fully, why it is you had to die. We do not understand why you were betrayed by human hands, and we do not understand how it is you rose again. But we do know while we kept silent our bodies wasted away and we groaned all day long.

Taize Option: Lord here my Prayer, Hymn Option: What Wondrous Love is This v. 1

Help us to live with our lacks and to lean into why you came: to teach, to heal, to die and to forgive our sins. Help us live fully with who we are.
(Write down what Jesus has taught you, who you are, what you want to hang onto)

Taize Option: Bless the Lord My Soul Hymn Option: What Wondrous Love is This v 2.

And let us once again confess our full selves to you so they may once again be forgiven.

Writing down Confession of sin on another piece of paper

Taize Option: Jesus Remember Me Hymn Option: What Wondrous Love is This v. 3
(Collect to trash, burn, rip up)

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
   whose sin is covered. 
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
   and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 
    Selah
While I kept silence, my body wasted away
   through my groaning all day long. 
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
 my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Selah 

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
   and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
 and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

 Selah

Let us know the truth, as short and imperfect as life is. Remember that you are always and forgiven. Thanks be to God.
Holy Communion

The Lord’s Prayer

Imposition of Ashes

Blessing

#ash #psalm51 #relentless #lent #slatespeak

I have been feeling the #relentless-ness of life this season. The relentlessness of the news cycle, telling me over and over how broken we are…

The Jewish Community Center daycares receiving bombthreats

The 7 Trans women who have been murdered

The queer couples who married quickly, just in case

The travelers who are being detained and kept from their families

The need for young transpeople to go to the bathroom safely

The international relationships that are in peril

The Jewish cemeteries being desecrated

The Dakota Pipeline camps being cleared out

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Psalm+51

Ministry, is about life, which means that there is seldom a “normal week” in the church. The best of ministry is open and adaptable, because Life is Relentless. The basement pipe leaks, then a member is ill and dies, then the governing body is borrowing your building for a meeting, then your board member steps down. This is church, its imperfect, because its alive. Its real, because it reflects real life, its about the imperfections and love in the midst of the daily-ness.

Relentless, means “unmerciful” and “heartless” and “unforgiving” Life is indeed relentless.

Lent, then is the season of the opposite.

Its the season of “have mercy on me O God” the season of God’s “steadfast love” the season of “abundant mercy.” Its the season of pause and reflection. Its the wait and see, its the celebration of the journey.

And I am aching for this season. The restoration of Joy, because only God can provide Joy in this time of weary sin. Only God can sustain a spirit of willingness.

Good thing you like broken spirits, God, cause thats what I got. Brokenness and Hope.

Lent & Relentlessness

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Links of Prayer: Narrative Lectionary for Lent

Links of Prayer Resources for Lent.
A broad number of prayers from a variety of pastors/denominations. All variations of theology and kinds of prayers were accepted to show the vast richness of God’s work.
 These prayers are meant for personal spiritual practice or for congregations who follow the narrative lectionary.
They include a Call to Worship/Opening Prayer, Prayer of Confession, Assurance of Pardon, Communion Prayer, Prayer of Dedication/Offering and Some are Paired Psalm-Prayer Station Guide by Rev. Shea Zellweger
Feel free to use/edit. Credit to the original author (i.e. based on prayer written by XXX) appreciated.
March 1st Ash Wednesday by Rev. Mary Austin
March 5th The Good Samaritan by Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis
March 12th The Lament Over Jerusalem by Rev. Courtney D. Arntzen
March 19th Lost Coin, Lost Sheep, Lost Son by Rev. Mike Williams
March 26th Rich Man and Lazarus by Rev. Tracy Spencer-Brown
Apr 2nd Zacchaeus by Rev. Katy Stenta
Apr 11th Triumphal Entry/Palm Sunday by Rev. Jeanne Gay
Apr 13th Last Supper by Rev. Amy Fetterman
Apr 14th Crucifixion by Rev Lee Ann Higgins
      Good Friday Liturgy of the Nails http://wp.me/p2rhxZ-25W
Apr 16th Resurrection/Easter by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl

Narrative Lectionary: Ash Wednesday Links of Prayer

Ash Wednesday

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“Invitation to Lent” Author Rev. Mary Austin

Feel free to use/edit. Credit to the original author (i.e. based on prayer/prayers written by Rev Mary Austin) appreciated.

Luke 9:51-62 and Psalm 5:7-8 or Psalm 5:8

Call to Worship
We are dust and ashes,
bone and breath,
full of frailty and limitation.
Lent calls us into reflection and repentance,
drawing closer to God. 
Lent calls us to see ourselves as dust and ash,
alive only with God’s breath.
Lent invites us to be pilgrims,
moving with Jesus toward the truth. 
In Lent, we travel with Jesus,
moving toward an end and a beginning.
Let us worship the God of glory,
with all that is within us.  
 
 
Call to Confession
Keeping up appearances is exhausting. Pretending to be something we are not takes a toll on our spirits.  The illusion of perfection makes us weary.  Lent invites us into a place of freedom.  Let us speak the truth about ourselves, and know the truth about God.Trusting in God’s abundant, living mercy, let us pray. (time for silent reflection)…Amen 
 
Prayer of Confession
God who breathes life into dust,
and fills ash with glory,
we come to you knowing that we are broken,
not by your doing,
but by our own. 
Forgive us for chasing shiny gods,
instead of turning to you.
Forgive us for trusting our own abilities
more than your goodness.
Forgive us for seeing other people as stepping stones,
instead of as your beloved ones. 
Breathe life into our dust again, we pray,
and claim us once more as your own. 
In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
 
Assurance of Grace/Pardon
Who are we, that God is mindful of us?  God’s fingers have shaped us, and God’s breath gives us life.  God’s abundant mercy follows us with each step.  In the life of Jesus Christ, we see a new way to live.  In following him, our lives are redeemed.  Through Jesus Christ, we are all forgiven.  Be at peace in God’s grace. 
 
 
Invitation to Communion
My friends, dust and ash we are, and also God’s beloved people.  Jesus, who knows both death and resurrection, invites us now to the table.  Here, even on this day, we see a glimpse of God’s table.  At the table of God, there is hunger is no more, and all of God’s people feast together.  There death is no more, and we see our beloved ones and God’s people of all the ages.  There tears are no more, and we rejoice in the presence of God’s living grace. 
 
In the name of Jesus our host, Jesus whom we follow into Lent, Jesus who gives us living bread, we are all invited to come and share in the feast. 
 
 
Prayer after Communion
Holy God,
with the taste of ash still in our mouths,
you have fed us with the bread of heaven
and the cup of new beginnings.
Lead us now, we pray,
into a Lent of somber reflection
and committed service,
spreading the taste of your love to all people.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.  
 
 
Offering Prayer / Prayer of Dedication
Merciful God,
our gifts are as limited as our lives,
but we offer them to you with gratitude,
knowing that they really are your gifts,
loaned to us.
We offer them with praise,
that you invite us to share in your work. 
We offer them with hope,
knowing that you can transform them
into instruments of love and justice.
In Jesus name, Amen.

#ashwednesday is for….

Ash Wednesday is for when all four of your checks hit after the bank closes but before you can put your husband’s check in, including the really big rent check, and they therefore all BOUNCE!

Ash Wednesday is for your four year old child throwing up all over the house, and not quite getting the try to aim for the bowl or the toilet concept

Its for your special needs kid being better focused in class, even as you worry about his continual bad smell

Its for losing your voice on the night the pastor has to lead service

Its for your eldest who is struggling to concentrate getting a good email from the teacher.

 

Ash Wednesday is to lay out your whole self before God

To confess yourself, not to feel ashamed, but to be able to see yourself as God’s beloved

The very act of owning  who you are and your reality, the act of being you as God’s, frees you to be reflective of God.

I confess myself and seek God…because to me, they are the same thing….

Ps 34:4-5  I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

Baptized Ash: The Stars, the moon & me

We are brief, like flowers, like a breath of air.

We are mortal, here one moment and gone the next.

It is amazing to think that the same God who is eternal, the one who created rocks and trees that last hundreds or thousands of years, the ones who crafted the heavens that seem to be billions of years old created us as temporal beings.

stars

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? ” Ps 8:3

Death is real for us–it is a real part of our existence, but we our lives matter. God created us and then God sent Christ to us. Even though we are not perfect and live only a short while.

Christ baptized us, marking us, tagging us as His. Like writing a name on the bottom of a favorite toy, we are marked. Marked by the cross, reminded that God takes care of us and is particularly present to us. When we are baptized, we die with Christ, we rise with him, and we live into the fact that we are the be-loved children of God–adopted into God’s family, covenanted through Christ.

And this is important because our lives are short.

And we are not perfect–my 6 year old son has just realized he is not perfect, and he never will be. He shuts himself up in his room and cries about it. When he makes a mistake, he mourns it.

And because bad things happen in our lives, we have to deal with real things and real evil and God knows that we have to deal with all this.

Do you know what I do when my son cries forlornly all alone?

I go to him, I sit with him, I hug him and comfort him. I tell him I will love him no matter what. I know he’s not perfect, and that’s ok, because I love him.

Isn’t that what God did when we were sad, broken and alone ever-realizing our imperfection. God gathers us in Her arms, hugs & comforts us and tells us–we are not perfect, but God loves us no matter what–God loved us when we were Ash and will love us when we become Ash again.

Us humans wish we were perfect, but God made us something better than perfect–God made us loved.

Ash Weds: Narrative Lectionary Here’s what we’re doin’ tonight!

 

 

sheep

Ash Wednesday March 5, 2014

Psalm 23: King James Version

Call to Worship

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Repentance: Confession and Creation of the Ashes (writing and burning of our sins)

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Silent Contemplation

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Communion

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

The Lord be with You

And Also with you

Lift Up Your Hearts

We Lift Our Hearts to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

It is right to give our thanks and praise

Epliclesis Prayer &  The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever.

Bread  & Cup: Intinction

(please dip the bread in the cup, taking care to keep your fingers from touching the liquid)

Ashes

Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Benediction
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

Prayers and Liturgy by Pastor Katy Stenta who is the solo pastor at a bigger on the inside church in Albany, NY and enjoys reading fantasy, soaking up sunshine, playing with her three sons and visiting her husband at his work, the library.