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Ash Wednesday Worship

A worship service of repentance and renewal for Ash Wednesday

A Service of Repentance and Renewal

Since the beginning of the church, Christians have observed the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection with great devotion. It became one of the greatest traditions of the church to prepare for these events through serious examination of our spiritual lives.

The season of Lent is a time of penitence, discipline, and renewal. In the Ash Wednesday service we are reminded of our mortality, we confess our sins, and we experience forgiveness through Christ’s death and resurrection.

The “imposition of ashes” is a central part of the service. You are invited to come forward to receive the ashes on your forehead. In Scripture, ashes serve both as a symbol of mortality and as a sign of mourning and repentance.

But neither sin nor death are the final word. We leave the service in confidence and gratitude: Christ has conquered death, and nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Also See "Why Ash Wednesday?"

       The Lord be with you.
          And also with you.

Prayer  (Prayer of Confession, based on Psalm 51, or this responsive prayer:)
       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. 


Meditation    (Debra Rienstra-Ash Wednesday Meditation

[see suggestions for texts & themes below]

Imposition of the Ashes

We begin our journey to Easter with the sign of ashes.
This ancient sign speaks of the frailty and uncertainty of human life,
calls us to heartfelt repentance, and urges us to place our hope in God alone.

Prayer:              Almighty God,
                        you have created us out of the dust of the earth.
                        May these ashes remind us
                        of our mortality and penitence
                        and teach us again that only by your gracious gift
                        are we given everlasting life;
                        through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Invitation:         I invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ,
                        to observe a holy Lent
                        by self-examination and penitence,
                        by prayer and fasting,
                        by works of love,
                        and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.

                You are welcome to come forward to receive the ashes on your bared forehead (or your hand).


         God of love,
         as in Jesus Christ you gave yourself to us,
         so may we give ourselves to you,
         living according to your holy will.
            Keep our feet firmly in the way where Christ leads us;
            make our mouths speak the truth that Christ teaches us;
            fill us with the life that is Christ within us.
         Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
         who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
         one God, forever and ever,

Response         Song

Assurance of Pardon   John 3:16


The God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do this. 

 Notes from The Calvin College Chapel:

Texts  &  Messages

2000    Scripture          Psalm 51:1-2, 7-12
Reflection                    “Repentance that Leads to Salvation”

2001    Scripture          Acts 2:37-47
Reflection                    “Practicing Piety”

2002    Scripture          Joel 2:12-13
Reflection                    “Returning”

2003    Scripture          1 Peter 1:3-5, 23-25
Reflection                    “From Ashes to Easter”

2004    Scripture          John 10:1018
Reflection                    “You Are Mine”

2005 Scripture             Hebrews 1-2:1
Reflection                    “Anointed with the Oil of Gladness”

2006 Scripture             1 Peter 3:10-12
Reflection                    “Desiring Life”

2007 Scripture             Luke 10.38-42
Meditation                   "At the Lord's Feet, Listening"

2008 Scriptures            Genesis 4:6 & Romans 6:4
Meditation                   "A Day of Marks"

2009 Scriptures             Psalm 102:1-17, Mark 1:9-13
Meditation                   "Ashes and Abundant Life"

2010 Scripture             Luke 18:18-30
Meditation                   "Giving It Up"


Throughout These Lenten Days and Nights- Sing! A New Creation 129
Friends in Faith Who Follow Jesus- Sing! A New Creation 135
Create In Me a Clean Heart- Sing! A New Creation 49
Beautiful Savior- Psalter Hymnal 461
Baptized in Water- Psalter Hymnal 269
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross- Psalter Hymnal 384
Ah, Holy Jesus- Psalter Hymnal 386
Since Our Great High Priest, Christ Jesus- Psalter Hymnal 230