Blessing the Dust (An Ash Wednesday Reflection on II Corinthians 5:20-6:10)

Given at Colonial Church on Ash Wednesday March 6, 2019.


5:20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6:1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
    and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

-II Corinthians 5:20-6:10 (NRSV)


What are we ambassadors of?

It matters what kind of dust you think you are for this is that of which you will be an ambassador.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust: What kind of dust does Christ make of you?

Might we be ambassadors of the dust of reconciliation and life and love and salvation for our souls.

Receive this blessing of the dust:

BLESSING THE DUST

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons1

You are from dust.

You are beloved dust–

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

Might we be ambassadors of this good news and great love: 

the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

Amen.


  1.  Jan Richardson, “Blessing the Dust,” Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons (Orlando: Wanton Gospeller, 2015).

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