Marked by Ashes By Walter Brueggemann
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.
Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp. 27-28.
In Augustine’s Confessions, Book #2, Augustine finds that ‘recalling (his) wicked ways’ to God actually brings freedom and hope. As we lament as Christian workers the ways in which we have failed, the things we have left undone, the ways we wronged our co-workers, and the sin we are implicated into as people of the fall, we too may find the God of great grace who took on our sin, so as to embrace us. We need to ‘taste the ashes in our mouth,’ as Brueggemann states above, in order to be ‘Easter-ed into joy and energy and freedom and courage.’
In light of this, how could Ash Wednesday’s lament and confession change the ways you work? What might you confess and lament about your work to God? How might God want to meet you in this?