Living Psalm 51: 1-17 – Ash Wednesday Year B


Living Psalms Book

Psalms in the form of words and art, reborn in the specific contexts of our world, privileging the voices of historically marginalized communities and those acting in solidarity with them.

Living Psalm 51: 1-17 – Ash Wednesday Year B

Let the Healing Begin

You may choose to use two readers whose voices are very different and play music under this psalm (“Precious Lord.” “You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore” come to mind). Another possibility would be to include a have a third person In a zoom box or physically distanced from the readers in a mask just washing and washing their hands as this year’s image of repentance that is not “about me ashes” but about caring for others.

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your love and your mercy, help us to remember our transgressions so that we can confront the wrongs we have done and bring about the change we want to see in the world.

We forgot to love each other as you commanded, instead we point out our differences, labeling them flaws and choose to hate your creation.

We want the easiness of being washed and made clean, yet there is no magic to remedy the sins we have committed, or to wipe away the injury we have cause each other.

Our sins are before us. Help us to find our way to repentance that is holy, right and just, repentance that is framed by naming the wrongs we have done, acknowledging the harm we caused, providing apology, and finding our way to restoration as an act of repentance.

The sins we have committed are many. We have sinned against you and against each other. The evils of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, White supremacy, casteism, homophobia, ableism and all forms of discrimination are but a few names we put in place to identify the ways in which we fail ourselves and each other.

We are guilty of not loving as you have called us to love. We are guilty of dismissing those with disabilities of many kinds. We ignore cognitive disabilities because we cannot see them. We ignore our elderly refusing to touch them. We refuse to hear the cries of those who are suffering. We negate the experiences of those we deem to be unlike us.

We want to wash our hands to feel clean. We would prefer to turn our heads rather than confront the transgressions we commit with every breath. We want to be forgiven without repenting.

Holy God, you desire truths we are afraid to utter. Truths that would identify our fears, our weaknesses and our brokenness. Truths that point to our human failings and fragilities.

We will not be clean, until we can truly repent of the wrongs we have done. We destroyed our communities, we destroyed the land, we destroyed the ecosystem and we destroyed our relationship with you in our quest for privilege and power.

We desire joy in our denial. We want to forget, rather than hold responsibilities for the turmoil we have caused. We want to ignore the bones that we have crushed and the suffering we have caused many. We hide our faces, rather than confront and change our behaviors, or relinquish the crushing power and privilege we enjoy.

Put a right spirit in us, one that will provide us with the courage to face our sins and own the degradation we have wrought around us. Poverty, gender based violence, child abuse, human trafficking are signs that your holy spirit is not with us.

Create in us hearts that are caring and compassionate. Restore to us the love that is of you, love that will sustain us and nurture those in community around us.

Deliver us from the pain of our suffering. We hurt others because of our own pain and feelings of inadequacy. Deliver us from the wounds of the generational traumas that perpetuate suffering and are a result of being descendants of oppressors and the oppressed.

Open our spirits to experience visions of a world that is devoid of bloodshed caused by injustices by many names. We want to be delivered immediately, hold us accountable for the hard work that will transform our lives.

Creator God, you take no delight in the money we have, the charity we provide or the commitments we have made to our religious institutions. These do not please you when we continue to perpetuate injustices and hate each other.

The sacrifice acceptable to you, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Help us to acknowledge our brokenness, push us to a place of remorse and repentance.

Then, and only then, our healing can begin, moving us to transformation and joy. Then and only then we will enjoy right relationship with the Creator and all creation.

Living Psalm  51: 1-17— Ash Wednesday B was written by the Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson.

Living Psalms Book is created by UCC Witness & Worship Artists’ Group, a Network of UCC connected artists, activists and ministers bridging the worship and liturgy of the local church with witness and action in the community. 

Logo is detail from Living Psalm 80 by Sophia Beardemphl, Redwoods, CA. Recovering from significant bullying, Sophia, age nine, read Psalm 80 and thought of brokenness that needs mending. She drew this broken and mended bowl.

© Copyright 2021 Karen Georgia Thompson.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.