Dust and Delighting (Ash Wednesday)

I’ve only attended one other Ash Wednesday service. It was years ago, when my feet were finding their footing as a scared single mom wanting to make a good life for her kid. A Dutch Reformed church in Oklahoma City became my healing place. I wept that night with the ashes and bread and wine. Last night the tears welled up again as Brad and I joined with others at Church of the Cross. “We can participate in Lent because God is safe,” Vicar Paul said. “He is always a safe place for us, He is home. Lent is our time to carefully attend to every relationship in our lives. Every single one. It’s cause for such great joy.”

I heard him quietly whisper “to dust we will return,” as the ashes were placed on my head, and I reflected on the words from my morning devotional. “You are the delighting of God.” God – Holy God, preeminent God, delights in me and wants to delight others through me. Earlier in the day, my friend Kellye and I talked about the difficulty in believing those words. We’re walking this road together, and confession is good for our souls – so we speak out our encouragement to each other.

I see myself as an ampersand of dust and delighting. Fragile and powerful, earthly and heavenly, thin place fragments made complete.

The words of the Litany of Penitence seem bolder now, more real. Not simply words on paper, but heartfelt confession that sinks deeply. “I confess” replaces “we.” There is not one word in the confession that I read as “their problem but not mine.” All are within me – every brokenness is there, in need of speaking out. And again, I remember the words. “God is safe.” Safe to hear every confession. Faithful to embrace. Faithful to be my home. Faithful to heal.

Here are the words of the litany. Read them carefully today. They are not ancient or out of date. Speak them out. Breathe the reality of your dust and delighting life into them.

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

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.

Those last words. Accomplish in us…so that we may show forth. You, love, are an ampersand of dust and delighting, earthly and heavenly. It’s a proclamation of the thin places in us.

My heart catches in my throat. Yes, Vicar, God is safe.

This entry was posted in Community, Faith, Prayer by Ronne Rock. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ronne Rock

LIFE. LOVE. LEADERSHIP. AND A LITTLE #KITCHENTHERAPY. Ronne Rock’s heart finds its strongest beat where beauty and pain collide – because hope always finds us in the shattered places. There’s more than 30 years of marketing and communications experience in her bones, and she finds great joy in sharing leadership wisdom as a regular contributor to Orange Leaders and QARA. But more often than not these days, she's with the vulnerable in difficult places around the world, gathering stories that change stories. Find Ronne's words in "For You, Love" the prayer journal that invites you to respond, and in Everbloom, a collection of stories from the Redbud Writers Guild. She is currently writing, "Building Eden: Principles of a Grace-Filled Leadership that Restores and Redeems."   Ronne is represented by Karen Neumair at Credo Communications.

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