Once We Sang and Danced

Ash Wednesday and 17 dead (at this point) at a high school in Parkland Florida.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” — perhaps while in a high school classroom, because American citizens can buy military assault weapons.

Tonight, during our Ash Wednesday worship, we sang Susan Briel’s words, which are based on Psalm 137.  It seems to me that her words might be on the lips of grieving families and friends in Parkland:

One we sang and danced with gladness,

once delight filled every breath,

no we sit among the ashes,

all our dreams destroyed by death.


All the willows bow in weeping,

all the rivers rage and moan,

as creation joins our pleading:

“God do not leave us alone.”


God, who came to dwell among us,

God, who suffered our disgrace,

from your own heart, grieved and wounded,

come the riches of your grace.


Come, O Christ, among the ashes,

come to wipe our tears away,

death destroy and sorrow banish;

now and always, come and stay.


Blessings to you as you journey through this Lenten season towards Good Friday and Easter.


— Pastor Andy Ballentine

About Pastor Andy Ballentine

Pastor Andy Ballentine retired in July 2019 after 40 years of ordained ministry. He loved serving as a parish pastor! Pastor Ballentine took his BA degree from the University of Virginia (with a major in sociology) and earned the Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with the thesis topic of: "How Benedictine Monastic Spirituality Nourishes Parish Ministry." He has completed the program of Spiritual Direction from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. In the Virginia Synod, Pastor Ballentine has served as Dean of the Peninsula Conference and as chaplain to the candidates in the Virginia Synod’s Candidacy process (those on the way to being approved for ordained and professional ministries in the church). He has staffed many, many Virginia Synod youth events!

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