Ash Wednesday Prayer Service: February 17, 2021

The video link above will be active at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. You may need to click the Play button to start the video.

Join us for this time of reflection and prayer. Let us leave, as best we may, our griefs behind us. Let us convert our sins to ash. We are marked with the sorrows, the pains, and the errors of the past. May we be renewed for a brighter tomorrow.

Online Worship, February 17, 2021
Ash Wednesday

Rev. Eric S. Anderson, Pastor

Greeting

Opening Prayer (Unison)

Gather us in this time, O God. Gather us in the separated time. Gather us in this spiritually impoverished time. Gather us in this weary time. Gather us in this open time, time to reveal our hearts to you, time to welcome you into our spirits, time to seek your healing, forgiveness, and renewal. Gather us, O God, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 51:6-12

Reflection

Prayer of Confession

Gracious God, we pray that we can offer you an honest confession.

Some of our confession, O God, is a confession of our limits. We have taken on tasks we could not complete. We have made promises we did not have the resources to keep. We have offered assurances to our loved ones that were beyond our knowledge or power. We have committed ourselves to you, and we have faltered when our strength, our hope, or our spiritual wells ran dry. We confess our limits.

We have encountered a global crisis, O God. It is greater than our power, and we have sought escape in denial, in false courage, in a hopeless assertion of “normal,” in distractions of the mind or spirit. We have not escaped, of course, O God. Our hearts suffer. Our minds suffer. Our spirits suffer. We confess our pains.

We have made errors, O God. Sometimes with all the best will in the world, we have concluded on a course of action and it turned out to be a poor choice. Sometimes we have had to decide based on insufficient information, and it did not go well. Sometimes we rushed things. Sometimes we didn’t take enough care. We confess our errors.

We have also committed sins against others, O God. We have done so sometimes without meaning to, but we must confess our carelessness. We have done so because we could not see another way, and so we confess our limited vision. We have done so because we needed to protect ourselves somehow, and so we confess our self-centeredness. We have done so because we wanted to, and so we confess our hubris. We confess our sins against others.

We confess our sins against you, O God. We confess the sins against others that are also sins against you. We confess the times we half-heartedly sought you and pulled away before we could hear your response. We confess the times we made demands and closed our hearts against you. We confess times your grace poured over us like a refreshing rain, and we complained that it was cold. We confess our sins against you, O God.

In this prayer we have named just a few of our limits, our attempts to escape, our errors, our sins against others, and our sins against you. Look now into our hearts, O God, and find there as much honesty as we can bring. Find there the memories of when we are sure about how we faltered or gave up or ran out of steam. Find there the memories of when we know we chose the wrong path for ourselves and for others. Find there also the memories of when we simply are not sure: did we do well for ourselves? Did we do well for others? Did we do well with you?

What we know is that our memories, our past, contains much that we would leave behind. Take the strains, O God. Take the limitations. Take the pains and suffering. Take the sins and the errors. Take it all, O God, and transform them into dust and ash. May fire in this instance be cleansing and healing. May fire in this instance separate us from what we pray to leave behind. May fire in this instance warm our spirits in homage to your Holy Spirit that warms our spirits.

In this fire, O God, transform us from what we were yesterday into what we will be tomorrow, still marked by the past as plainly as ashes on our foreheads, but marked also with the possibility and the promise of new life.

Confessional Burning of Palms

Bless our hearts, O God, as we turn dried leaves to ash.

Assurance of Pardon

Friends, may the joys of yesterday endure. May they strengthen you as a blessing. Friends, may the limits and errors and sins of the past crumble to ash. Though we bear their mark – and we will – may they exercise no power over us in the possibilities of tomorrow. God is greater than human limits. God is not swayed by human error. God is merciful to human sin. In the name of Jesus Christ, I tell you: your limits are surpassed, your errors are redeemed, and your sins are forgiven by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Benediction

May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

Categories Worship | Tags: , | Posted on February 11, 2021

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