Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Genesis 3:19

CALL TO WORSHIP       
Wednesday is a day of betrayal.
Just Wednesday?
No, betrayal is any day in which gold glitters more brightly than grace, or fear and hatred obliterate the face of Jesus. It can be any day that we turn again to self-reliance and seal betrayal with a kiss of feigned friendship.
Full from our lips there drop the honeyed words, “Master, I will follow thee.”
But He witnesses our betrayal on Wednesday, on any day, on everyday.
What shall he say, the Betrayed, on that last great day?           
Even in betrayal I have loved you every moment; on Wednesday, on everyday.

Introit ………………… Ashes
by Tom Conry

CONFESSION OF SIN
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor.  Repentance, fasting, prayer, study, and works of love help us return to that love.  Let us commit ourselves to love God and neighbor by confessing our sin and by asking God for strength to persevere in our Lenten discipline.

Let us pray:
Most holy and merciful God:  We confess to you and to one another, and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with all our heart, and mind, and strength.  We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, O God

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.
Have mercy on us, O God.

We confess to you, O God, all our past unfaithfulness.  The pride, hypocrisy, and impatience in our lives.
We confess to you, O God.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways and our exploitation of other people.
We confess to you, O God.

Our anger at our own frustration and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.
We confess to you, O God.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts and our dishonesty in our daily life and work.
We confess to you, O God.

Our negligence in prayer and worship and our failure to commend the faith that is in us.
We confess to you, O God.

A TIME OF SILENT CONFESSION AND CONTEMPLATION

Accept our repentance, O God, for the wrongs we have done. For our neglect of human need and suffering and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, O God.

For false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us.
Accept our repentance, O God.

For our waste and pollution of your creation and our lack of concern for those who come after us.
Accept our repentance, O God.

Restore us, O God, and let your anger depart from us.
Favorably hear us, O God, for your mercy is great.

Almighty God does not desire the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live.  Therefore we implore God to grant us true repentance and the Holy Spirit that those things which we do this day may be pleasing to God, that the rest of our lives may be lived faithfully, and that at the last we may come to God’s eternal joy; through Jesus the Christ.
Amen

All readings are from the English Standard Version bible.

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON ………………………………………………… Genesis 3:1-7

Karen Howard reads the Old Testament Lesson

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

HYMN ………………………………………………… #196  Go To Dark Gethsemane


EPISTLE LESSON ………………………………………………… Romans 5:18-19, 21; 6:1-4

Claire Buchanan reads the Epistle Lesson

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

IMPOSITION OF ASHES

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return

The imposition of ashes was inspired by the symbolic role that ashes, and fire, play in the bible, where they represent destruction, death, grief, mortality, and a need for repentance as well as a new start. Traditionally, the palms from the prior year’s Palm Sunday are burned to use as the ashes for this year’s Ash Wednesday. If you saved your Palms from last year, you can try this method for authenticity. If not, any ashes would do the trick (or none at all), because the importance of our Ash Wednesday ritual is in the repentant heart, not the smudgy forehead. When imposing your own ashes, remember that we all started as dust, and back to dust we will all eventually return; but in between, our relationship with God and with others is what defines us as Christians. How is your relationship with God? Does it need repair? How are your relationships with your family, friends, neighbors and community? Are there things that you need to repent? Ash Wednesday is a time of honest reflection on your sins. It is a time to seek forgiveness for past transgressions and strength for changing your heart going forward.

SPECIAL MUSIC ……………………………. Create in Me
performed by The Acappella Company

THE LORD’S PRAYER

HYMN …………. #200 What Wonderous Love is This

Benediction
Enter into your Lenten discipline, as you recall the agony and passion of Christ. Amen.

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