LENT: Return with your Whole Heart

ASH WEDNESDAY: THE INVITATION TO RETURN

You and I drift away from our true home.  We forget that we are God's beloved.  We forget that we are not God.  We succumb to the temptations of money, sex and power.  We ignore the cries of our brothers and sisters. We focus only on ourselves.

During Lent -- the forty days before Easter -- God calls us home. God invites us to remember who we are.  To let God be God in our lives.  To respond to our suffering neighbor.  To begin again with God.

Only when the fierce love of God, fully revealed in the Crucified One, pierces our hearts, do we truly return to the God who longs for us.      {adapted from Trevor Hudson}

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.

---Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)