Ash Wednesday – intro to Lent

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The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days (through 17 April). It is followed by Holy week and Easter, which are the central days of the church year. Our congregation holds evening worship services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, followed by morning worship on Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday sermon — Download:

Ash Wednesday call to prayer and Words of Assurance:

Call to prayer – introduction:

Call to Prayer(1) – Isaiah 58:1,2:

Prayer of Confession – Psalm 51:1-2:

Like Jesus, we hear many voices tempting us in all kinds of directions. Some want us to buy; some what us to play; some want us to get angry or join a cause.

This part of our Ash Wednesday service has set the tone for Sunday:

The messages are all around us,
the racket urging us to buy,
the distractions, interruptions, false promises of happiness
that keep us from seeking God,
the constant seduction, the flashiness that demands our attention:
this clutter of noise often drowns out our thinking, our identity,
God’s word.  

Call to Prayer(2) – Isaiah 58:3,4:

Prayer of Confession – Psalm 51:3,4 13,14:

Call to Prayer(3)- Isaiah 58:5,6:

Prayer of Confession – Psalm 51:5,7:

Call to Prayer(4)- Isaiah 58:5-7:

Prayer of Confession – Psalm 51:10-12:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me,
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit,
through Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Call to Prayer(5) – Isaiah 58:8:

Prayer of Confession – Psalm 51:15-17:

Call to Prayer(6) – Isaiah 58:9-11:

Prayer of Confession – Psalm 51:8,9:

Words of Assurance: Isaiah 58:12 :

20190308_112110 (1)As part of your Lenten discipline, you are invited to consider:
1. What clutter of messages, publicity, invitations, entertainments do you face?

2.  For Lent, what discipline might you consider to make sure you hear God’s word in the midst in the world’s constant demand for your attention? For example, might your family read a few verses of the Bible at a meal? Might you memorize a verse a day, to put some of these ancient but valuable words in your head? Might you take time for contemplative prayer, spending time with God in silence?

3. You might choose a day and keep track of the number of advertisements that you read far enough to get the subject, as opposed to ones you just ignore. It sometimes helps if we become aware of how much is coming at us each day.

4. What strategies might you take to reduce the time and energy this takes away from what might be more important to you?

During the service on Ash Wednesday, we read from Isaiah 58:1-12. It serves as a Lenten guide worth re-reading. You might also read the Gospel for Sunday, Luke 4:1-13, Jesus fasting in the wilderness tempted by Satan.

[photos by Elisabeth Benn]