Ash Wednesday 2011

Psalm 51:1-17

traditionally referred to as the Miserere

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

Listen to “Miserere” by Arvo Part
Listen to “Fifty One” by Aaron Strumpel

A “wordle” for T.S Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday”

A painting by Linda K. McCray entitled, “Dust to Dust”

“The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday as ashes are imposed on foreheads with the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”  Lent begins with a blunt reminder of our mortality and invites us to draw closer to Jesus, who leads us through death to life.  In “Dust to Dust” Linda McCray seeks to portray the journey of self-emptying – kenosis – as the emptiness that precedes grace.”

“…a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

Free Us from Self-Fascination

Lord Almighty, we say we want to serve you, we say we want to help others less fortunate than ourselves, we say we want justice. But the truth is, we want power and status because we so desperately need to be loved. Free us from our self-fascination and the anxious activity it breeds, so that we might be what we say we want to be – loved by you and thus capable of unselfish service. Amen.

– Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 49.