God of ash and dust, our ashes fill the world this year.  The ashes of loss are present all around us: grief and mourning fill our days.  Lost lives, lost time, lost companionship, lost work. We are ready to tear our garments with grief. 

The ashes of bitterness are present here: political strife and injustice surround us. The ashes of bitterness may consume us yet.

The ashes of loneliness flutter about us, in the spaces where people used to be, a pale imitation of being together. The ashes of loneliness may eat us alive.

The ashes of our former lives haunt us, impossible to reconstitute, demanding new beginnings.  The ashes of the past may bury us in tears.

Come, O God, you who create from dust, to redeem us.  Come, O God, to breathe life into our dust. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Mary Austin is the pastor of Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, a multi-cultural church in the Washington, DC area.

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