Lent — Ash Wednesday
Heart of the Matter
Service for Ash
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; (or Isaiah 58:1-12);
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
“Alleluia” is the song of praise traditionally used by Christians to
celebrate the resurrection of Christ,
his triumph over sin and death. The Church customarily refrains
from using this form of praise during the 40 days of Lent, as we are invited to
search our hearts to recognize and repent of
the power of sin within our own lives and the life of our world.
Prior to worship, with
the order of service, give each attendee a small, smooth stone with the word “Alleluia”
written on it. They will be giving up
these stones for Lent as they approach the altar for imposition of ashes.
to Worship (freely adapted from the Joel reading)
ONE: The Day
of the Lord is coming upon us!
ALL: O Lord,
we need your mercy and grace!
A day of darkness and
gloom, of sorrow and worry,
of grief and shaking
O God, sustain us!
day of terror and turmoil, of pain and faltering,
of deep sadness and
Blow the trumpet!
Call all the people together!
Bring all the men and women, all the children, all the
Raise your voices and sound the alarm!
Look, Holy One!
We gather ourselves
together between the altar and the door!
We mourn; we weep, we
We cannot sing Alleluia
when our voices are broken by tears!
High, come and save us! Spare us!
Do not let them ask, “Where is now their God?”
or Prayer Before the Burning of Palms
God of our Hearts,
not of our outer
garments, nor our church structures,
nor our programs and
you are the only one
who can make us pure.
You are the only one
who can wash us clean of all our sin and guilt.
You alone can save us
from the terrible Day of the Lord.
You are the merciful
and just God.
If we turn, we see
Help us to turn, O God
of all hearts,
and find you here with
– the Christ-heart within us all.
our fires for you, to reflect your shining.
Place dried palms in
flameproof vessel on the altar and ignite.
When the flames die
away, add oil to the ashes and stir
to make the paste for imposition.
ONE: O God
of Grace, may we not have received you in vain.
When we pray because we
desire others’ good opinion,
When we give our gifts for
us, O God.
we deny ourselves to get others’ admiration,
us, Merciful One.
When we fail to do unto
others as we would like them to do unto us,
us, Spirit of Love.
we put our privileged selves first,
before the poor and
needy and disadvantaged of this world,
us, Creator of Truth.
we keep for ourselves more than what we need,
us, Give-Away God.
Forgive us our sins and
trespasses and debts.
Only then can our souls be washed clean and spotless.
Only then can we be your true servants.
Only then will we reach the pure heart of the matter.
the heart of the matter is that we can find our treasures in heaven,
and also on earth, so
long as we are forgiven and set free of our burdens and sin.
Bless God who frees us and lights up our
heart-shadows with the fire of agape
Are the Lightbeams
(verse 1) TNCH 163
Christ has given to each of us a loving heart and a generous spirit,
us testify for him in the giving of our tithes and offerings.
of the Heart-of-the-Matter,
have given you back a small portion of your bounty to us.
it bless the hearts of all who come to our church and partake of its love.
to Imposition of Ashes
(Invite all to bring
their “Alleluia” stone to the altar to give it up as a Lenten gesture.)
so now, come, giving away your stone “alleluias”
the next forty days.
instead the ashes of humility and the oil of repentance;
illumined within your heart,
that you are forgiven and “alleluia” will return.
you have come in the struggle of your lives
acknowledge Jesus and his life and death.
you wear the symbol of all death on your foreheads,
know in your hearts that this is not all there is.
“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” is the stuff
of our little lives.
the heart of the matter is the alleluia –
in the God within you and the fire of Christ’s love in your life and work.
in peace and hope, and gather your true purpose about you!
will sing “Alleluia” once again! Amen.
us in the Spirit’s Tether – TNCH 337
Give Me a Clean Heart — TNCH 188
Response: Peace I Leave with You My
(chorus only) – TNCH 249
Hymns: Beneath the Cross of Jesus – TNCH 190;
Dust and Ashes – TNCH 186;
si vivimos – TNCH 499;
Lord I Want
to be a Christian in My Heart – TNCH 454;
If I Have Been the Source of
Pain, O God – TNCH 544.
Heart of the Matter:
Service Prayers for Ash Wednesday, Year A was written
by The Rev. Marilyn K. Levine, a United Church of Christ pastor serving New
Town United Church of Christ and Parshall Memorial Congregational Church on the
Fort Berthold Reservation at Lake Sakakawea in northwest North Dakota.
Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries,
Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this
material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.