Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent and is a day of fasting.

Guide us, Lord, in your good way : that all our work might speed your day

(from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)

Psalm 95* & 32, 143 (*For the Invitatory)
    • Attend an Ash Wednesday service to receive the imposition of ashes
    • Choose a resurrection word to focus on during Lent, naming what you hope will be resurrected come Easter
    • Remove colorful decorations from central spaces; use bare branches or simple stones to create a focal point instead

    A palm frond set inside a stylized flame symbolizes the ashes, made from the burnt remains of last Palm Sunday’s splendor, which will mark the sign of the cross on our bodies. The image is encompassed by the Latin phrase “Remember man, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These words and symbols invite us to engage with our own mortality and sorrow over sin as we begin our Lenten journey.

    All those days
    you felt like dust,
    like dirt,
    as if all you had to do
    was turn your face
    toward the wind
    and be scattered
    to the four corners

    or swept away
    by the smallest breath
    as insubstantial—

    did you not know
    what the Holy One
    can do with dust?

    This is the day
    we freely say
    we are scorched.

    This is the hour
    we are marked
    by what has made it
    through the burning.

    This is the moment
    we ask for the blessing
    that lives within
    the ancient ashes,
    that makes its home
    inside the soil of
    this sacred earth.

    So let us be marked
    not for sorrow.
    And let us be marked
    not for shame.
    Let us be marked
    not for false humility
    or for thinking
    we are less
    than we are

    but for claiming
    what God can do
    within the dust,
    within the dirt,
    within the stuff
    of which the world
    is made
    and the stars that blaze
    in our bones
    and the galaxies that spiral
    inside the smudge
    we bear.

    Blessing the Dust For Ash Wednesday by Jan Richardson

    “Blessing the Dust” also appears in Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
    Jan L. Richardson, Wanton Gospeller Press, 2015