Ash Wednesday Prayer Service

Today has been great. We had a really great meeting with the Camas-Washougal Homelessness Task Force this afternoon. A visitor from New Life Friends Church came and talked to us about a variety of ministries they are doing and some of the nuts and bolts of how to go about helping those in our community. I also planned our Ash Wednesday service, which I think was the first one (ever?) at Camas Friends (though it certainly wasn’t new for all people). I was really looking forward to hosting the worship time and introducing our church to Ash Wednesday because it has played a meaningful role in my own spirituality. The service was simple, with some prayers, scripture reading by different folks, silence, and of course ashes. Instead of marking people’s foreheads with the ashes I decided to have the ashes in a bowl and invited people to run their fingers through them that way while I said “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I know some of you will be interested to see what we did so I thought I’d post the service here:

Ash Wednesday Camas Friends Church February 17, 2010

Gathering  Prayer (Sing the Journey):

God of love,
light a flame of love in our hearts  to you,
a flame of love to our families and friends,
a flame of  love to our neighbors,
a flame of love to our enemies.

Light a  flame of love in our hearts to all,
from the lowliest thing that  lives,
to the Name that is highest of all.

Let this flame of  love enlighten our eyes this lenten season,
help us to have eyes to  see, and ears to hear you in the world around us.

May we slow our  lives down so that we can listen and respond to the Light of Christ  within us.

A Reading: Psalm 51:1-17

Reader A) Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my  transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my  transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil  in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was  born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

Reader B) You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore  teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop,  and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than  snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones  that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

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.

Reader C) Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will  return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your  deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth  will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in  sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not  be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken  spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not  despise.”

Why Ash Wednesday? Wess – I gave a little background to Ash Wednesday, framed it in terms of three movements: prayer, self-denial (or what I said was spiritual detox) and almsgiving. Then I talked about taking on a practice, discipline, or rhythm. Rather than simply giving up the obligatory vice, take on a practice that will help you form yourself in a particular way. I also discusses some of the themes of Lent, mortality, vulnerability, and forgiveness.

A  Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10

“So we are ambassadors for  Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on  behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be  sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of  God.

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to  accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“At an acceptable  time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have  helped you.”See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the  day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no  fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have  commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in  afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots,  labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience,  kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the  power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and  for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We  are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well  known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed;  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as  having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”Query and Open  Worship

Query: Consider one practice (discipline,  a rhythm or rule of life) you can participate in during the Lenten  season to help grow in the discipline of being fully awake, being  prepared for Christ?

Distribution of Ashes: Remember that  you are dust and to dust you shall return. Be fully awake, listening and  responding to the Light of Christ.

Closing Prayer: Ashes  to the Living Fount by St. Flavian (p.59 Sing the Story)

From ashes to the living fount your church must journey,
Lord,  baptized in grace, in grace renewed by your most holy word.

Through fasting, praying, and charity your voice speaks deep within,
returning us to ways of truth and turning us from sin.

From  desert to the mountaintop in Christ our way we see,
so, tempered by  temptation’s might we might transfigured be.

From ashes to the  living fount, your church must journey still,
through cross and  tomb to Easter joy, in Spirit-fire fulfilled.


Here’s a link to view this as it’s own document if you’d like.

I also handed out the Lenten prayer guide the Evergreen community in Portland put out.