Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent (pun intended), where Christians discipline themselves to draw nearer to God through Jesus Christ through various means. This year a potential storm system is preventing Christians across our area from worshipping together on this solemn day. Below is a condensed version of our Ash Wednesday service so you may have that worship experience at home with your family, friends, or in solitude. This certainly does not replace being with others in worship, but I hope it blesses those who cannot make it out.
Pray aloud Psalm 51:1-17
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
Invitation to Lenten Discipline
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: The early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
Prayer of Confession
Observe a moment of silence confessing your sin to the Lord.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Now, share with those around you or reflect on what you are offering to God during this Lenten season. Pray for strength that you will hold-fast to your pledged offering to God.
Chances are, no pastor is in your home to bless the ashes, but you can be reminded of their significance whether you are alone or with a group of people.
If you are alone, make the sign of the cross on your forehead and meditate on the passages of scripture below.
If you are in a group, go around the group, in turn, making the sign of the cross on your neighbor’s forehead and say one of the following passage of scripture aloud.
Genesis 3:19 – “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Mark 1:15 – “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Click this link to reflect on a rendition of “What Wondrous Love is This?”
May God bless your work during this Lenten journey, that in your commitment to self-discipline, you and the world around you may be transformed. To God be the glory. Amen.