Of Blood and Ash

"Blood knowledge...Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year...Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made a personal, merely personal feeling...This is what is wrong with us. We are bleeding at the roots."
- D.H. Lawrence/Terry Tempest Williams

In the rhythm of the year, today is Ash Wednesday, today the season of Lent begins, today the whole congregation is to be put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I want to stop the bleeding. If only for a season.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

"-and it is so bright now, you can hardly bear it as it fills the door, this immense glacier of light coming on, and still you do not know who you are, but here it is, try to remember, it is all beginning."
- B.H. Fairchild

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

(the ashes are imposed with the following words)
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

~Then he told them this story: "The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, and I'll say to myself, Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!'
"Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die.'~
Luke 12.16-20

And so it begins by remembering what we try so hard to forget: We are dust. We are fools.

Super-Fat-Tuesday night's talk was of tearing down the barns of "how it's been" and building bigger barns of "change." And as the barn-builders talked, tornadoes stirred the dust in Arkansas and God showed up and said, "Tonight, thirty-one of you must return to the dust from whence you came." And so we awake this morning knee-deep in blood and ash and barn-building and commuting and publishing books and cooking breakfast and deadlines and iPhones. Fools.

~"The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;
a broken and contrite heart"~
- Psalm 51.18

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

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