VSCC ASH WEDNESDAY COMMEMORATION: “A Day of Fasting & Prayer for Peace and Ukraine”

As the world often does, it has provided us with more evidence of the failure of the human spirit, the invasion of Ukraine, to remind us that the ultimate result of our human sin is always war. We all face our own  battles with sin individually, so it’s to be expected that we would propagate this sinful violence  against each other … even to the point of violent warfare against our brothers & sisters of God of other nations. Which brings us to Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday comes once a year, and marks the beginning of a spiritual journey that will span forty days, from today until the light of Easter. It is a sacred intimate time between each of us and God, to confess our sins and accept our fallibility. When accept the reality of our own sinful nature, then we become open to help. And the help we need is found only in God’s love for us, delivered through the life and death of His Son and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Thus, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of a forty-day journey into God’s love for us. Each one of us. Personally. .

Because we had to cancel our Ash Wednesday service for this evening, here is a way to experience the same spirit of unity and fellowship that we feel when we’re together. Today, let us ALL take some “away time” to pray ourselves through these 3 worship resources. With each other – in spirit.

Choose your own time. Pick your own place. I promise, God will be wherever you are. And read and reflect on these resources as you wish.

From Shane Claiborne

The first time the word “sin” appears in the Bible is when Cain kills his brother Abel. That is the inaugural murder, and we’ve been doing it ever since.                                                                     Every time we kill, God hears the blood cry out from the ground. Violence is always sinful, and it is always evil. We must stand against the violence in Ukraine. We must also commit to respond to this sinful violence without returning it in kind, for violence only fuels the fire of hatred, resentment, and fear.                                                                                                                      We cannot love our enemies as Christ commands, and simultaneously prepare to kill them. It was Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who scolded Peter as he resorted to violence, saying to Peter, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”                                                                                                And yet we continue, again and again, year after year, to live by the sword and die by the sword.                                                                                                                                                                    There is another way.                                                                                                                                  We who believe in peace must be as courageous and as organized as those who believe in war. Peacemaking does not mean passivity. Peacemaking is the active resistance of violence, but not on its own terms. Peacemaking is about interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, resisting oppressors without becoming oppressors, neutralizing enemies without destroying them.                                                                                                                                   Blessed are the peacemakers for they are the children of God.

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“Marked By Ashes” – Walter Bruggemann

 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.


– From ‘Prayers for a Privileged People’ 2008.


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This Lenten season, let us adopt this ‘Jesus Prayer” as our daily … hourly … even minute by minute prayer, training our hearts for the next 40 days to learn to pray this prayer unceasingly.

“The Jesus Prayer”

Lord Jesus Christ                                                                                                                                       Son of the Living God                                                                                                                                        Have Mercy on Me                                                                                                                                         A Sinner

(A pocket size version of the Jesus Prayer will be available Sunday in church)


Forty days to prepare for a resurrection. Let us begin together, today.

In His name, by His will, we can,                                                                                                                                   Pastor Bob