Read Psalm 51:1-17

Psalm 51, the Ash Wednesday Psalm used every year in the liturgical cycle for the beginning of Lent, is perhaps the most significant Penitential Psalm.  In 17 verses it covers in beautiful poetic language the state of our “being” as humans living life “before God.”  It moves with dramatic singleness of thought and power through the following realities of our human life before the Divine Presence.

Our human sinful condition as sinners in an alienated “state of being” from God.

A quest and request for forgiveness and cleansing.

A desire for the renewal of life’s brokenness and sadness to joy and


An expression of commitment and an understanding of true worship.

An active engagement in true piety and proclamation of God’s


The poem/prayer below was given to me by Dan Mahurin, member at FCC in New Martinsville, and I pass it on as a blessing to you for your reflection on this Ash Wednesday when we acknowledge in the liturgy with the sign of the ashes that “We are dust and to dust we shall return.  Therefore, repent and believe the gospel.”  It is a marvelous theopoetic expression of Psalm 51.


Let my words

Be the cool water

For a thirsty soul.


Make me the lance

To protect the weak,

The staff,

That the lame may walk.


Through me speak

For those without voice,

A haven for the lost

In life’s troubled seas.


From dust I arose

Molded by timeless hands.

To dust shall I return

Save for the breath that gave life.


That breath not of air

But of eternity’s touch

Shall never be dust

But onward passed

As lance and staff

Voice and haven.


We leave our marks

As one

Of God’s works.

Dan Mahurin

Victor Hunter;  First Christian Church, New Martinsville, WV