Dust and transformation


(Photo: Albert Goedkoop)

 

Ash Wednesday was weeks ago, I know.

Still, you might derive some spiritual nourishment from this Ash Wednesday benediction, even now in Holy Week, as Jesus’ death looms large and his victory over sin and death is imminent.


Ash Wednesday Benediction

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

Let the memory of your incomplete humanity
awaken you to the wonders, joys, sorrows, and pain of life.

Let the ashes you wear be the ashes of transformation;
of awakening to the beauty and love of seizing the moment
and living it to the fullest.

Let it be said of you that here in this little part of eternity
that you lived fully, loved extravagantly
and helped humanity evolve into all that God dreamed we can be!

You are fearfully and wonderfully made
In the image of the ONE who is was and ever more shall be
Creator, Christ and Spirit ONE, Amen.

by Pastor Dawn, posted on pastordawn.
 


 
Extra
The Dust Storm in Prayer (on Ignatian prayer)
 


 
From the blog
Holy Week posts from 2017
 

On dust and glory


(Photo: Albert Goedkoop)
 

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust dust dust

 
(Ps 103:13-14)
 


From Ash Wednesday to Easter and beyond

A reflection
 
 
Remember
that you are made of dust
and you will return to dust.
Remember too
that we are made in the image of God –
male and female,
old and young,
white and all persons of color
and geniuses
and people with attention deficit disorder.

It’s a strange and confusing combination,
this dustiness
and this freedom to love
and to be selfish
and to be afraid
and to know hope
and joy
and wonder.

I don’t need to know all the answers,
but I’d appreciate help remembering
that the Cross and the Resurrection
add a new dimension
and a new promise.
I remember this:
When we “Do this” in remembrance of Him
the dustiness
and God’s image
and my history
walk together,
led by His hand into life.
My life.

It’s a strange business,
this combining of
dust
and
glory.

 
by William Maxwell. Posted on www.inthecourtyard.com
 


 
From the blog

5 earlier references to Psalm 103:
From generation to generation
Forget not
From a grateful heart
Theme: The greatest is love
Forgiven and forgotten
 

New dust


(Photo: Albert Goedkoop)
 

This is the first post in our new series, “Dust”.

Prayer for Lent

O God, who makes all things new,
new stars, new dust, new life;
take my heart,
every hardened edge and measured beat,
and create something new in me.

I need your newness, God,
the rough parts of me made smooth;
the stagnant, stirred;
the stuck, freed;
the unkind, forgiven.

And then, by the power of your Spirit,
I need to be turned toward Love again.
Amen.

 
by Pamela C. Hawkins, in The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent (Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2009), p. 30. Posted on Prayer and Creeds
 


 
From the blog
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)
Precious dust
Forget not
 

Not deserted


Ethiopian blessing  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Prayer of Lament

inspired by Psalm 77: 1-20

God, we call out to you!
From the depths of our hearts, we cry,
“Lord, hear our prayer!”

We are consumed by grief.
The events of the past few days have overwhelmed us —
it’s hard to sleep,
it’s hard to eat,
it’s even hard to pray.

Where are you, God?

Deep down, we know that you love us —
we’ve experienced your mercy and your faithfulness in the past,
and it has sustained us through many difficult times.
We refuse to believe that you have deserted us,
or that you are unaware of the pain that we’re feeling.
And so we turn to you again,
longing for your presence,
looking for your comfort and peace.

Surround us with your unfailing love.
Remind us that you alone are God,
and that you hold us in the palm of your hand.
Give us courage and strength to face the days ahead,
and strengthen us in the knowledge that we do not face them alone.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, we pray.

Amen.

 
source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 


 
From the blog
He suffered series (Holy Week 2018)

3 Prayers for Lent


 

Lent is a time to get real and take stock. Here are 3 prayers that you might find helpful in your Lenten journey this year.

 


#1

God of the desert,
as we follow Jesus into the unknown,
may we recognize the tempter when he comes;
let it be your bread we eat,
your world we serve
and you alone we worship.
 

A New Zealand Prayer Book, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #770
 


#2

when the world is no longer a paradise
and creation shows its full power over us still
and we are brought down to size on this small planet of ours

we worship

when the memories linger of the past
and war shapes us beyond our knowing
and conflict becomes a story of life

we worship

when the way is more barren than beautiful
when the path is more a climb than a stroll
when the desert expands and the horizon stretches

we worship

we worship
because we can

we worship
because we hope

we worship
because we know our vulnerability

when things shift
and we need to hold on

we worship

it is the only strength we have for the journey

welcome to Lent

 
by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website, available on re:worship.
 


#3

“Lord, hear my prayer; do not hide your face from me in the day of my trouble; my heart is scorched and withered like grass; I have become like an owl in the wilderness; I have eaten ashes for bread, and mingled my drink with my tears.” (Psalm 102:1, 2, 4, 6)

Lord,
take my small offering of self-denial this Lent,
as a sign of my great longing for you.
I hunger for your presence in my life,
and I thirst for your love.
I hunger for justice for those who are wronged and oppressed,
and I thirst for your peace.
I hunger for a glimpse of your glory,
and I thirst for your stillness in my heart.
God of giving, God of longing, God of pain,
I hunger for you.

 
by Angela Ashwin, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #774
 

Leaving the desert behind


Wanderlust, Paris  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

It was my privilege, as newly appointed moderator of the International Presbytery, to conduct the communion service at our Presbytery meeting in Paris this past weekend.

Here is a transcript of my reflection on Joshua 1:1-9.


Only be strong and courageous

I regularly listen to a podcast called Creative Pep Talk. Here is God giving Joshua a pep talk at a crucial, threshold moment in his life and in the life of his people. And, I suppose, this is my pep talk to you and to my own soul.

Joshua got a sneak preview of the Promised Land 40 years earlier, as one of the 12 spies, and he and his friend, Caleb, returned with glowing reports, admitting it wouldn’t be easy but with God’s help nothing is impossible.

Sadly – tragically – the other 10 spies were anything but strong and courageous and they sowed a spirit of fear and unbelief.

Joshua stayed true to his convictions all through the wilderness years, faithfully serving Moses as his assistant and spending time with God, getting to know Him better.

With Moses gone and the Promised Land back on the agenda, it was time for a leader with a different personality and skill set. A warrior leader, strong and courageous, to inspire his people (this time round) to be strong and courageous too.

‘Be strong and courageous, Joshua,’ God said (v. 6). ‘Only be strong and courageous’ (v. 7). ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed’ (v. 9). ‘As I was with Moses,’ God said, ‘I will be with you; I will not fail or forsake you’ (v. 5). ‘The Lord your God is with you wherever you go’ (v. 9).

To paraphrase: ‘Be strong and courageous, Joshua, because you are not alone. If you continue to trust me and obey my commandments, there is nothing to fear. I’ve got your back.’

Earlier in Deuteronomy 31:7-8 God used Moses to encourage Joshua with these self-same words. This time God encourages Joshua in person with wave upon wave of loving affirmation, so the words sink in.

We can all do with more courage and encouragement – especially when we are tempted to give up, worn out by the wilderness years; or when we’re on the threshold of something new and risky; or when we face wave upon wave of opposition as we venture forward to make the Promised Land our own.

Let me encourage you today.

Whatever ‘strong and courageous’ means in your context, be strong in the Lord and courageous. For ‘God did not give us a timid spirit, but a spirit of power and love and sound judgement’ (2 Timothy 1:7).

And let us encourage one another as we boldly move forward to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us (Phil 3:12).  Amen
 


Call to worship

(inspired by Jeremiah 31:7-9)

Praise God!
For God is gathering His people together.
From near and far we come together—
the wounded and the whole, the weak and the strong—
seeking God’s presence,
God’s forgiveness,
and God’s direction for our lives.

by Christine Longhurst, re:Worship
 

Worthy of trust


Spring willow  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

I love this passage from Paul’s first letter to Timothy. It’s peppered with good, true and beautiful words like “promise”, “value” and “deserves”. To accompany the reading, a blessing by Jan Richardson, inspired by the story of the Roman Centurion who demonstrates uncommon trust in Jesus.

 

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe.

1 Timothy 4:7-10 (NIV UK)

 


Only Speak the Word

A blessing inspired by Luke 7:1-10

You might not have guessed
how far this blessing
can travel.

But it is worth believing
that it is built
for crossing distances
for stretching itself
for making its way
without hesitation
to the place
where it is needed most.

Only believe—
or, failing this,
latch onto someone
who will believe
for you,
who will ask
on your behalf,
who will plead
for this blessing
to come.

Trust one who knows
with a certainty
fierce as fire
that this blessing
will find its way
to you,
that it will treat
miles and time
as nothing,
that it will push through
each boundary,
cross every border,
pass through
all obstacles
to reach you.

Trust that these words
know the path
into your anguish,
that in your ache
they will become balm
and in your pain
they will become soothing.
Trust that they will be for you
a sweet
and stunning
peace.
 
by Jan Richardson, posted on paintedprayerbook.com
 


 
From the blog
Fearfully and wonderfully made
 

Blessed assurance


Graffiti on graffiti  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
 
Assurance is one of the synonyms for trust (noun).

Searching for assurance on re-worship.blogspot.com I came across many references to Words of Assurance (of forgiveness), often used in the service after a time of confession.

Here are some words of assurance written by John Birch – assurance that goes a lot deeper than feelings alone as it is based on the character and love of God.


Confession and forgiveness

(A moment or two of quiet where we might make our silent confession to God)

‘Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him.’
(Romans 4:7-8)

 
For your embracing love
a Father’s love
a Mother’s love
The love that sees our failings
and forgives us
The love that sees our joys
and embraces us
The love that knows no ending
or beginning
The love that could die for us
and did
We bless you.
We bless you!

— written by John Birch, and posted on http://www.faithandworship.com/


From the blog:
Forgiven and forgotten

On trust


 


 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
      and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
      and he will make straight your paths.

 
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
 


Blessing

inspired by Psalm 37:3-9

Trust in God, and do what is good;
live with quiet confidence where God has placed you.
Delight in God’s presence,
and you will have all that your heart desires.
Commit everything you do to God—trust Him completely—
and He will never let you down.
Be patient.
Don’t worry or get upset when things don’t go well.
Instead, learn to rest in God’s presence.
For those who trust in God will have everything they need.
 
from re-worship.blogspot.com