Ash, Year C

 

Musical Reflection
Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie

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Invocation

Mystery of Goodness,
by whose gaze
we are called into being and held in life:
teach us
the secrecy of prayer
which seeks no reward;
the generosity of love
which forgets itself;
the gift of a treasure
uncountable and unconsumed;
through Jesus Christ, the Child of the Wilderness.
Amen.

First Reading

Flour and Ash
by Chana Bloch

“Make flour into dough,” she answers,
“and fire will turn it into food.
Ash is the final abstraction of matter.

You can just brush it away.”

She tacks a sheet of paper to the wall,
dips her hand in a palette of flour and ash,
applies the fine soft powders with a fingertip,
highlighting in chalk and graphite,
blending, blurring with her thumb.

Today she is working in seven shades of gray.

Outside the door, day lilies
in the high flush of summer-
about-to-be-fall. Her garden burns
red and yellow in the dry August air

and is not consumed.

Inside, on the studio wall, a heavy
particulate smoke
thickens and rises. Footsteps grime the snow.
The about-to-be-dead line up on the ramp
with their boxy suitcases,

ashen shoes.

When I get too close she yanks me back.
She hovers over her creation
though she too has a mind
to brush against that world
and wipe it out.

 

Second Reading
White Ash Goes Up at a Touch
by Todd Boss

while the black oak

takes coaxing.

That popping and

whistling? Yellow

birch and red pine.

Difference

might for now define,

but soon the whole

church is chanting

at the same time,

flame splashing

bright from the dirty
bucket of the earthly,
roaring likeness

and only likeness

into the bottomless
cool of the night . . .
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Gospel Reading
Matthew 6:1-21

“Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Abba God who is in heaven.

“Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Abba God who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to God who is present in that secret place. Your God who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your God knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this:

Abba God in heaven,
uphold the holiness of your name.
May your reign come;
so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.
Give us the bread we need for today.
Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,
just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

“If you forgive others their sins, Abba God will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will Abba God forgive you.

“And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Abba God who is present in that secret place. Abba God, who sees in secret, will reward you.

“Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Musical Reflection
Into Dust by Mazzy Star

 

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Penitential Prayer
by St Ambrose of Milan, adapted

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all,
take away from us our sins,
and mercifully kindle in us
the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from us hearts of stone,
and give us hearts of flesh,
hearts to love and adore Thee,
hearts to delight in Thee,
to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ’s sake, Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

O Parent of the Universe,
manifesting thyself as generative energy,
Bend over us and remove
all that clutters our being
and set apart a place
where thy sacredness may dwell.
Fill us with thy creativity,
so that we may be empowered to bear
the fruit of thy vision.
Then, moving to the heartbeat of thy desire,
make us the embodiment of thy compassion.
Drawing from the ground of our humanity
grant that we may renew each other
with love, understanding, and sustenance.
Empty us of frustrated hopes and despair,
as we restore others to a renewal of vision.
And let us not fall into agitation,
but save us from precipitous actions.
For thou art the ground
of the fruitful vision, the birthing-power, and the fulfilment, as all is gathered and made whole once again. Ameyn.

Musical Reflection
Metal and Dust by London Grammar


Blessing

Bless to us, O God,
the doors we open,
the thresholds we cross,
the roads that lie before us.
Go with us as we go
and welcome us home.

May the blessing of God – the One From Whom, the One Through Whom,
and the One in Whom We Offer Our Praise
,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

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Sources:

Artwork by Sean Landers

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie

Poem Flour and Ash by Chana Bloch

Poem White Ash Goes Up at a Touch by Todd Boss

Musical Reflection Into Dust by Mazzy Star

Prayer by St Ambrose of Milan

Aramaic Lord’s Prayer by Mark Hathaway

Musical Reflection Metal and Dust by London Grammar

Blessing from The Pattern of our Days

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