A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

(extinguish candles)

The darkness asks us questions.
You are out there and we do not see.
You invite us into the night,
the stillness, the loneliness, the desert place.

We cannot see our shadow;
the cold damp of unknowing rises up from beneath
our feet.
We tread cautiously, tentatively.

We are afraid,
afraid of ghosts
haunting us with spectres of guilt
and shame.

We would like to run back,
reach the river bank,
swim the Jordan,
sit in the sun by the sea,
mending our nets.
But you have brought us here
- with no bread.

When we look we can see only ourselves,
our darkness.
When we read,
it is invisible words which cannot be grasped,
thoughts we cannot clutch,
hope we cannot capture.

Yet the wild honey remains a taste in our mouth,
a memory for a new day.

Why have you brought us here?
What miracle will you perform for us?

The darkness sighs around us,
dense with your unseen presence,
close to our breathing,
close to our breathing.

O darkness, enlighten us,
embrace us with your invisible love.
Let us see your glory in the ashes.
Take us by the hand that we may trust the
darkness.
Minister to us by your Spirit that we may not be
afraid.
Jesus, keep the beasts away.

Amen

(light candles)

        Ashes to Easter  | Ash Wednesday | Poetry

 

prepared 15 February 1999  by Rev'd Professor William R. G. Loader BA (Auckl) BD (Otago) Dr theol (Mainz, Germany) FAHA; Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University and New Testament Lecturer of the Perth Theological Hall of the Uniting Church in Australia, teaching in the Theology Programme.