A Service for Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004
February 25 2004 by Tony W. Cartledge

A Service for Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004

A Service for Ash Wednesday

By Tony W. Cartledge
I. Meditation, soft prelude

"Let Me Keep Lent"

Let me keep Lent. Let me not kneel and pray, Forego some trifle every day, Fast -- and take Sacrament -- And then Lend tongue to slander, hold ancient grudge, deny The very Lord whom I would glorify. Let me keep Lent. Let my heart grow in grace. Let thy light shine till my illumined face Shall be a testament Read by all, That hate is buried, self crucified, new-born The Spirit that shall rise on Easter morn.

(St. John's Church, Savannah, Ga., in The Anglican Digest, Lent 1992) II. Hymn - "We Have Come Into His House" III. Lenten/Confessional Meditation The observance of Lent is an ancient tradition that many Christians have found to be meaningful through the years. It begins on "Ash Wednesday" and begins a 40 day period of prayerful preparation for Easter. Some people have used Lent as a time for fasting and prayer. Most observers do not fast for the entire period, but mark the Lenten season by giving up some pleasurable food or activity as an act of service and worship, and as a constant reminder to be prayerful. The primary theme of Lent, and particularly of Ash Wednesday, is repentance. It is a time to reflect on our sins of both omission and commission. It is a time to repent before God, and commit ourselves to making things right with others. Peter wrote "Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and slander of every kind" (1 Peter 2:1). Malice and deceit, hypocrisy and jealousy, slander and other sins of speech are just a few of the sins that plague us, a representative sample of the many ways we fall short. We remember that John the Baptist came preaching repentance, as did Jesus. The gospels are quite clear on that. Jesus expects those who follow Him to repent, to turn away from sin and to turn toward Him. The underlying Hebrew word for "repent" literally means "to turn around." Repentance is not just being sorry for our sins; it is turning away from them. IV. Anointing with Ashes Ash Wednesday services often include the imposing of ashes on the forehead, often in the shape of a cross. This harks back to the Old Testament practice of marking repentance by putting dust or ashes on the head. In some traditions, the ashes are made by burning palm leaves used the previous year on Palm Sunday. In just a few moments, we'll have some quiet music ("I Surrender All"), and will pass around bowl of ashes. I invite each person to anoint his or her neighbor with a mark of ashes on the forehead. As we do this, think of those things you need to turn away from this Lenten season. Are there sins that have plagued you this year and come easily to mind? Are there other ways, less obvious, in which you have failed to follow Christ as we are called? V. Prayer for Forgiveness / Cleansing of Ashes It is common for worshipers to leave an Ash Wednesday service with the mark of ashes still evident, but tonight we will do something different. We are aware that Christ forgives us of our sins when we turn to him. As soft music plays, we're going to pass around some towels, and I invite you to cleanse each other's faces of the ashes. As you do so, say to one another "Christ has forgiven you. Live in his grace." VI. Hymn ("Forgiven") VII. Commitment Meditation Peter not only called us to turn away from our sins that are harmful to us, but to turn toward healthy living and the things that promote spiritual vitality. He said, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good" (1 Peter 2:2-3). Let us spend a few moments of quiet meditation, and consider positive responses to Christ's claim on us. Ask yourself "What am I hungry for as I prepare my heart for Easter? For what am I thirsty? How can I seek spiritual nourishment in this special season? VIII. Closing Hymn - "Take My Life, Lead Me Lord."
2/25/2004 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

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