Resources for Ash Wednesday

Psalm 133 “Like the Dew of Hermon” (c) 2007 Aaron Collier

Late getting to this post, but as I’ve been working on our Ash Wednesday service i was having a hard time getting past the ash bit.  Even with my more more liturgical bent anointing with ash seemed like a difficult proposition.  This may be because I’ve had death in my family in the last couple of years.  So I decided to create an un-ash wednesday service for this year.

My church is holding their service next week in a lovely theatre space in downtown Raleigh (REP Theatre).  It will be an intimate look at the early ministry of Jesus and reflections on 1) how we are called to follow him in self-surrending obedience to the Father, 2) how we are called to die to self and live to Christ as we remember his/our baptism and 3) how we are called to pursue a life of continual repentance, confession, and renewal.

Instead of placing ashes on foreheads we are going emphasize the opposite side of the same coin by anointing everyone with oil as they come forward for communion.  This is a far richer and more biblical action and is a powerful reminder of the realities we have experienced in our baptism (cleansing, healing, life).  It it also a clearer expression of a life of prayer and fasting represented in Matthew 6.

You can download a PDF of our service HERE.

Here is a brief synopsis from The Worship Sourcebook:

“Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. By the fourth century the Western church determined that the Lenten period of fasting and renewal should correspond to Christ’s forty-day fast (Matt. 4:2), and, by counting forty days back from Easter (excluding Sundays, which remain “Feast” and Resurrection Celebration days), arrived at the Wednesday seven weeks before Easter. At one time Lent was primarily viewed as a period during which converts prepared for baptism on Easter Sunday, but later the season became a general time of penitence and renewal for all Christians. Thus Ash Wednesday became the day that marked the beginning of the Lenten renewal.

The aim of Ash Wednesday worship is threefold: to meditate on our mortality, sinfulness, and need of a savior; to renew our commitment to daily repentance in the Lenten season
and in all of life; and to remember with confidence and gratitude that Christ has conquered death and sin. Ash Wednesday worship, then, is filled with gospel truth. It is a
witness to the power and beauty of our union with Christ and to the daily dying and rising with Christ that this entails.

Traditional Ash Wednesday Services:

Christ Covenant Presbyterian – Chicago, IL
City Church – San Francisco, CA
Redeemer Presbyterian – Knoxville, TN
Redeemer Presbyterian – Indy, IN

Collect for Ash Wednesday:
(Book of Common Prayer)
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 contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


(See more from Bobby Gilles blog “My Song in the Night”)

Breathe, O Breath of God – Nathan Partain
Out of the Depths – Psalm 130 (Karl Digerness)
God, Be Merciful to Me – Psalm 51 (Christopher Miner)
Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy – Southern Harmony arr
The Secret Place – Red Mountain Music
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken –  Indelible Grace
Why So Heavy? – Red Mountain Music

You can find more resources for LENT here.

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