Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.
This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.
On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
You Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.
Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)
Taken from his Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp. 27-28.
Jan Richardson- Painted Prayerbook.com
I am not asking you
to take this wilderness from me,
to remove this place of starkness
where I come to know
the wildness within me,
where I learn to call the names
of the ravenous beasts
that pace inside me,
to finger the brambles
that snake through my veins,
to taste the thirst
that tugs at my tongue.
But send me
I met a man in Nigeria years ago,
who said he had three hundred relatives
he knew by name.
His wife had just had a baby.
They were going to take it
to be welcomed and marveled at
by as many of those relatives
as they could find,
there was a war going on.
Wouldn’t you love to have been
such a famous baby?
I wish I could wave a magic wand
and give every desperately lonesome
and hungry and lost American
man, woman, or child
the love and comfort and support
of an extended family.
Just two people and a babe in the manger,
given a heartless Government,
is no survival scheme.
I'd cut the prologue, where God agrees
To let his opponent, Satan,
Torment our hero merely to prove
What omniscience must know already:
That Job's devotion isn't dependent
On his prosperity. And how foolish of God
If he supposes that Satan, once proven wrong,
Will agree to forego his spite against creation
For even a minute.
I'd keep the part where Job disdains
His friends' assumption that somehow
He must be to blame for his suffering,
And the part where he makes a moving appeal
To God for an explanation.
I'd drop God's irrelevant, angry tirade
About might and majesty versus weakness.
The issue is justice. Is our hero
Impertinent for expecting his god
To practice justice as well as preach it,
For assuming the definition of justice
That holds on earth holds as well above?
Abraham isn't reproved in Genesis
For asking, when God decides to burn Sodom,
If it's fair to lump the good with the wicked.
Let Job be allowed to complain
About his treatment as long as he wants to,
For months, for decades,
And in this way secure his place forever
In the hearts of all who believe
That suffering shouldn't be silent,
That grievances ought to be aired completely,
Whether heard or not.
As for the end, if it's meant to suggest
That patience will be rewarded, I'd cut it too.
Or else I suggest at least adding a passage
Where God, after replenishing Job's possessions,
Comes to the tent where the man sits grieving
To ask his pardon. How foolish of majesty
To have assumed that Job's new family,
New wife and children and servants,
Would be an ample substitute for the old.
Sometimes when I'm alone
Cause I am on my own.
The tears I cry are bitter and warm.
They flow with life but take no form
I Cry because my heart is torn.
I find it difficult to carry on.
If I had an ear to confide in,
I would cry among my treasured friend,
but who do you know that stops that long,
to help another carry on.
The world moves fast and it would rather pass by.
Then to stop and see what makes one cry,
so painful and sad.
and no one cares about why.
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to water ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.