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Ash Wednesday Service

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GREETING:

CALL TO WORSHIP:

L The Lord be with you.

P And also with you.

L Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God

and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of

God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel." He also

said: "I have come that you might have life, and have that abundantly."

P We come before God this night, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, to hear God's word, to confess our sins, and to ask God to strengthen us in our faith that we might live more holy lives.

L Let us Pray

P Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made

and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create and make in us

new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and

acknowledging our brokenness, may obtain of you, the God of all

mercy, perfect remission and   forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our

Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for

ever and ever. Amen

PREPARATION OF ASHES

"The Ashes we use this night are a sign of repentance - of our sorrow and grief concerning our sin. They have been prepared in the traditional manner. Palms that were used in the Palm Sunday Service from last year were sprinkled with salt and burned and the ashes collected and made ready in this container. These ashes for us are a reminder of how the triumph of Holy Week quickly turned to sorrow..... Finally, to prepare the Ashes for use on this Holy Night - They have been sprinkled with the Sacred Oil of Anointing, oil made from Frankincense and Myrhh...."

 

HYMN:     

THE FIRST READING;                                                            Joel 2:1-2; 12-17

L    This is the Word of the Lord

P     Thanks be to God.


THE SECOND READING: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

L This is the gospel of our Lord.

 P Praise be to you. Lord Jesus Christ.

THE SERMON:


HYMN:     


|   |

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

L    Most Holy and merciful Father, we confess to you, to one

another, and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on

earth, that we have sinned against you by our own fault in thought, word and deed; you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

 

P     Have mercy on us, Lord.

L    We have been deaf to your call to serve as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.

P     Have mercy on us, Lord.

L    We confess to you. Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives.

P     Have mercy on us, Lord.

L    Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,

P     We confess to you. Lord.

L    Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than

ourselves.

P    We confess to you, Lord.

L   Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,

P    We confess to you, Lord.

L   Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the taith that is in us,

P    We confess to you, Lord.

L   For all false judgements, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us.

P    Accept our repentance, Lord.

L   Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;

P    Hear us, Lord, for your mercy is great.

IMPOSITION OF THE ASHES

Minister: Almighty God, from the dust of the earth you have created us. May these ashes be for us a sign of our mortality and penitence, and a reminder that only by your gracious gift are we given eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

 

Those who receive ashes now come forward. The Minister will sign you with ashes saying "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return".

ABSOLUTION

Minister: Hear the good news: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He gave power to his disciples to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. I declare to you, therefore, that God is just, and may be trusted to forgive your sins and cleanse you from every kind of wrong. In the name of Christ, I tell you, your sins are forgiven you. If you would have the life God intends for you, be you likewise forgiving.

 

HYMN:                 

BENEDICTION

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace -both now and evermore.

INFORMATION FOR BULLETIN INSERT:

Ash Wednesday, is the first day of Lent, the 40 days that precedes Holy Week and Easter. In the Christian Scriptures the number 40 relates to the period spent in the Ark by Noah, the period spent by Israel seeking the Promised Land after the Exodus, and the amount of time Jesus was in the Wilderness after his baptism and prior to beginning his ministry. For us, the Season of Lent is an invitation to 40 days of renewal ("Lent" means "spring"), 40 days to prepare ourselves to take in the Good News of Easter through deeper disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Ashes are the traditional sign of sorrow and repentance and are also a sign of "mortality". Receiving the sacrament tonight reminds us that God's love is triumphant over sin and death, and that God remains "in communion" with us, that in Christ, our mortality is overcome.

We mark the start of Lent with the ashes of Ash Wednesday, and from that moment we are reminded that the church and the world are pursuing very different agendas. In a culture where "image is everything" we deliberately and ritually disfigure ourselves, bearing on our foreheads the sign of the cross smudge in the dark grit of ashes, the symbolism goes even deeper when we understand that the grit is the residue of the palms from passion Sunday, ashes of the tokens of worldly success that had been raised in triumph as Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time. Nonetheless, it is possible to overlook the call to humility that comes with the ashes. After all, having survived the excesses of the day known inelegantly but accurately as Fat. Tuesday, it is hard not to feel a little self satisfied at making the effort to some to worship on Wednesday. It is not such an easy thing to fit another event into our weekday schedules, but here we are. What more could God want from us? The question echoes throughout the forty days.

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