Ash Wednesday Liturgy 2012

Here is our 2012 Ash Wednesday liturgy - with the homily by Logan Kruck.

Intro: Music only of the first verse of the first song.

Welcome
Opening Prayer:   Let us pray.
    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 repentant hearts, that we, fully sorry for our sins and acknowledging our brokenness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full cleansing and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Song: “Give Thanks"

Explanation of Lent and Ash Wednesday:
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully Christians. It was not always the way we know it today. Ashes marked on the forehead of worshippers were not given to everyone, but only to the public penitents who were brought before the church. Much like Hester Prynne bearing her scarlet letter, these open and notorious sinners were marked publicly with the sign of their disgrace.
As time went on, others began to show their humility and their affection for the penitents by asking that they, too, be marked as sinners. Finally, the number of penitents grew so large that the imposition of ashes was extended to the whole congregation in services similar to those that are observed in many Christian churches on Ash Wednesday.
We who will bear the ashes upon our foreheads stand with those whose sins may be more public, but not, according to the Scriptures, more grievous to the heart of God. And so we make our confessions …

Ashes are signs that we are all in this sin business together, and that the difference between the good in us and the bad in us is sometimes frightfully thin. We so often fall short of the Faith we claim. We have treated people as things and we have treated things as if they were valuable people. ...
Lent is a season that reminds us to repent and get our lives centered, our priorities straight, and our hearts clean. …  Further, Lent is a season of hope ... For by God’s grace in Christ, we do not have to stay the way we are. (Stewart Malloy, “Reflections on Ash Wednesday.”)

Old Testament Lesson:  Exodus 2:23-25 

    Reader: This is the word of the Lord.
    Congregation: Thanks be to God.
Silence (1 minute)

Song: “Deeper and Deeper”

Epistle Lesson:  2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
    Reader: This is the word of the Lord.
    Congregation: Thanks be to God.
Silence (2 minutes)

Song: “In Christ Alone”

Gospel Lesson:  Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
     Reader: This is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Congregation: Praise be to you, Lord Christ.
Silence (3 minutes)

Homily: Exodus 2:23-25 (Logan Kruck)

23 After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. 24God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

We are slaves.  Long ago, God gave our Father, Jacob, security from famine in the Land of Egypt.  God turned the selfish and sinful acts of Jacob's sons into a blessing to give life to the nations.  But God's blessing has been forgotten, and Egypt has turned from the land of life into the land of death.  We are slaves, and our children are sacrifices to Pharaoh's word. 
We are slaves.  Long ago, God gave our families ways to survive.  God provided jobs, food, clothing, and health so that we could live in this world.  He turned the curse of our sins into the labor that provides life.  But God's blessing has been forgotten, and our labor has turned from the blessing of life to the curse of death.  We are slaves, and our children are sacrifices to our labor's words.
The Pharaoh's of this world speak fear.  Pharaoh tells us that we cannot trust God's blessing anymore.  It does not bring enough security.  God has given us to Pharaoh.  We are left in our sins.  Our selfishness is our slave master.  It drives us to break our backs for wealth.  It beats us to sacrifice our brothers and sisters for status.  It demands that we drive ourselves, our families, and our brothers and sisters to death so that Pharaoh's power can continue.  And we cry out!
How long will this slavery last!  How long will we have to sacrifice our children to Pharaoh?!  How long must we toil and work under the oppression of our sins!?  How long will the tasks of our sins break our backs!?  God, have you forgotten us?
And yet, there is another cry that joins ours.  "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?"   It is the cry of Jesus, God incarnate, on the cross. 
And God answers our cries in Christ, saying, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you."
God heard the cries of the slaves, and remembered God's covenant with them.  God heard the cries of the slaves and came down to save them.  God hears the cries of the slaves, and becomes a fellow slave with us.  God, in Jesus, suffers our sin, our slavery, our feeling of being forgotten by God, and dies under this oppression.  God, through Jesus, joins us slaves, dies our death, and raises us to true life in God.  God brings us through the waters of the sea, the waters of our baptism, out of the land of sin and bondage, and toward the land of promise.
In this time time of lent let us remember that we live in the land of sin, and we are to cry out to God.  Let us also remember that the death and resurrection of Jesus has freed us from our slavery to sin and given us the promise of true life.  Let us cry out to God for the pain of this world, and let us give the grace of Jesus to free the slaves.  During lent, we must be as Christ, suffering as slaves while providing the grace of God.  God hears these cries and remembers us!  God hears these cries and cries with us!  God hears these cries and will save us!


Prayer of Repentance: Let us repent together with the words of Psalm 51.. 
 (Read in unison)
 1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
   Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
 2 Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
 16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.
 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.


Song: “Create in Me a Clean Heart”

Prayer for the Ashes: 
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Imposition of Ashes: 

    Come now and receive the ashes as a sign of your repentance, a reminder that we all live in sin's death, yet have received life through Christ.
    Impose the ashes with these words:
    Remember that you are dust, and only have life in Christ.

Litany of Penitence:
Most holy and merciful Father: 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 our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
People: Lord, have mercy.
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.
People: Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
People: Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you, Lord, our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
People: Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you, Lord, our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
People: Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you, Lord, our out of control love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
People: Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you, Lord, our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to recommend to others the faith that is in us,
People: Lord, have mercy.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
People: Lord, have mercy.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
People: Lord, have mercy.
For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
People: Lord, have mercy.
Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us. Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.  Accomplish in us the work of your salvation, that we may show forth your glory in the world.
People: Lord, have mercy.

Song: “Lord, Have Mercy.” 

Blessing: Psalm 103
Of David.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
   on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant  and remember to do his commandments.


Benediction:     May God bless your journey through Lent.  May God bless you with the grace to live well and to die well.  May God bless you with courage to be honest, courage to forgive, and courage to be forgiven.  Amen.

Please stay and pray as long as you want, but when you are ready to leave, please leave quietly.