LENT: God of Ashes

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This Lent, I am shifting from sharing just reflections but sharing prayers from my morning quiet time led by the lectionary text so that I might do my part to “open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise.”

Psalm 51

God of Ashes,

Oh, how I resist your call, your work, your touch, even your very nature. I prefer an Advent God who comes and gives life. I prefer an Easter God who comes to restore life. But here I begin this Lenten journey having to face you – the God of Ashes that dismantles and destroys. Though I resist you, my secret heart knows that I cannot expect Easter’s redemption until I have let go of that which is robbing me, that which you know needs to be laid waste.

I confess my lack of connection with the psalmist’s strong words – “for I know my transgressions.” I rarely allow myself to know my transgressions unless the moment is forced. I hide from them. I shield my eyes. I put my successes up on the wall. I brush my failures under the rug. I put on my blinders and stampede forward – creating towns, cities, and worlds with the work of my hands. But eventually impermanence pierce my illusions. Eventually my creations begin to crumble.  Quickly, I put my head down and go back to work, grabbing the glue and the tape and the hammer to patch up the crumbling structures.

All the while, the psalmist makes clear the prayers I should pray…

Blot out my transgressions
Make insignificant the supposedly “significant”
Wipe out the arrogant impulses to control
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
Cleanse me from my fears
Rid me of all the actions, impulses, and thoughts that betray the truth in my inward being.

How can I have enough strength to acknowledge my weakness?
How can I be ready for resurrection until I let pieces of my handiwork come to ruins?
How can I have a broken and contrite spirit until I acknowledge my faults, feel them, and hunger for penitence?
How can I come to Ash Wednesday before I am ready to let the ruins be?

You desire not just destruction but re-creation.  You desire bones that you have crushed to rejoice – knowing in your wisdom that some things must come to an end so that new life can blossom.

May this Lenten journey allow me to become acquainted with kneeling before you – where I might know my transgressions so that I might let them go.

What remains from the dismantling will be ruins, but your kind of ruins – the kind that sets the stage for life, new life, your life. May you grant humility to embrace the ruins, hope to trust the remains, and strength to trust you, the God of the Ashes.

Amen.

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