O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee,
to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ’s sake, Amen
—St. Ambrose of Milan, 339-397
To read a concise and clear history of the celebration of Ash Wednesday, read this article.
My sis-in-law posted this link and I was amazed at the author’s words for Christmas Eve. Written by Thom M. Shuman, at lectionary liturgies.
Let us go, just as we are, to see what has happened.
let us go with the shepherds:
let us go and find the One of whom the angels sang.
Let us go with those who are wise:
let us go and find the One who brings God’s truth to us.
Let us go with the poor in spirit, and in flesh;
let us go with those who are humbled by life:
Let us find the Glory of God born in a stable, and placed in a feeding trough.
Let us go with our friends and family,
let us go with our neighbors and with strangers,
let us go with all the children of God:
let us go to find the One who comes to lead us home to God’s kingdom.
O come, let us go to the Babe of Bethlehem; O come, let us adore him!
Christ our Lord!
We begin with such great hopes, such great dreams. We are going to be better, to treat others more fairly,
to love more deeply. But we come to the manger once again, knowing our failings, and aware of our
brokenness. Let us confess to the One who comes, that our lives might be made new.
This is the night your heart bursts open with Joy,
this is the evening Grace pours out of heaven,
this is the moment when you come
to make all things new,
You shaped light out of the shadows of chaos,
and molded your children from the earth,
looking in the mirror as you formed us,
breathing your Spirit into our empty lungs.
Made for life with you
in the Garden you designed for us,
we ran away into the wilds of the world,
believing we were wiser than you,
that we could make our own way.
Yet your love never failed us,
your compassion was never taken from us,
you would not abandon us in our foolishness.
You brought us out of slavery
into that land of promise and hope.
You sent your prophets to speak to us
of your disappointment in us,
and to remind us of your dreams for us.
Your love for us was so passionate,
that you sent your only Son
to become one of us
that we might be one with you again.
So on this night when heaven reaches down
to caress creation with healing,
we join the angel choirs who sang your glory,
and with your people in every time and place,
caroling the good news which is ours:
Gloria! Gloria! In excelsis deo!
Creation joins in the angelic chorus of joy.
Hosanna in the highest!
This prayer is from a sermon podcast by Rob Bell that a good friend sent along to me. In the midst of my own waiting for spring, for warmth, for answers, for what our next steps in our life will look like, this prayer echoes my heart’s cry today:
“God we ask for new possibilities. We come to you today and we bring our despair, our disillusionment, the weariness in our bones and we ask for new life. We ask for new wind, new energy. God, for those of us who find ourselves mired in routine and the everyday order of events and it feels like it’s just draining us – we ask for new possibilities. We ask that our thinking would be challenged, our boxes would be smashed, and that the ways we’ve limited things and drawn boundaries where there aren’t any – that we would be confronted in that. We ask for resurrection. We bring before you relationships that are strained, difficult, tense. We bring economic realities, debt, unemployment, bills… we drag this all in and set it down on the ground in front of us. We ask for hope, for new possibilities for a new day.”