Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. By the fourth century the Western church had 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”
days), arrived at the Wednesday seven weeks before Easter.
Ash Wednesday is not about making yourself feel bad or becoming more *religious* (ritual-focused and devoid of the Spirit). This is about allowing Jesus to be our Savior, replacing lies with truth and false substitutes for happiness with joy that is unshakable.
Here we meditate on our mortality, acknowledging our sin and the state of it, that it alienates us from God, our neighbors, God's good creation, and ourselves. We renew our commitment to follow Jesus by allowing his life to become our very own. We remember with confidence and gratitude that Christ has conquered death and sin. We witness to the power and beauty of our union with Christ and to the daily dying and rising with Christ that this entails.
Call to Worship
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
every year at Easter,
during the time of the “Christian Passover,”
we celebrate our redemption
through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lent is a time to prepare for this celebration
by being disciples who wake up every day
looking to Jesus for direction and purpose,
turning away from the temptation
to live life in cruise control
going our own way,
at our own speed,
aimlessly as if time is not short.
As Jesus lived in the flesh,
one day at a time, one breath at a time,
to do the will of his Heavenly Father,
so we too set aside our lives.
For do not exist for ourselves
But for the glory of God
who gives grace to the humble
and union with Christ,
moment by moment, divine life by divine life.
Let us begin this season of Lent
by acknowledging our need for repentance
and for the mercy and forgiveness
proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ,
our help and our God. Amen.
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 (NIV)
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.
“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
The Psalm | A Sacred Song
Psalm 51:1-17 (NIV)
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
Generosity & Giving
The tithes and donations you make to DreamHouse Church make a difference to our church, our community, the people of Newport News, and world missions. There are various ways you can donate. We pass a collection plate during services and electronic giving is available for 24/7 donations. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops” (Proverbs 3:9).
The Epistle Reading
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 (NIV)
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
The Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
The words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ --
“Come to me, all you
who are weary and burdened, and
I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
God of compassion,
through your Son, Jesus Christ,
you reconciled your people to yourself.
Following his example of prayer and fasting,
may we obey you with willing hearts
and serve one another in holy love through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ministry of Ashes
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
“Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
Either one of these phrases accompanies the receiving of ashes in the sign of the cross upon one's forehead. The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.
More than an external sign, we receive ashes reminding us that in our innermost being we place our trust, for this life and the next, into the hands of our Heavenly Father. As Jesus was baptized revealing God's good pleasure in the Son, we receive the sign of the cross in ashes remembering that our hope is found in God's faithfulness to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
The Lord's Supper // Communion
The Lord’s Supper is also a
celebration and proclamation of
Jesus’ real, spiritual presence with
us, of the forgiveness offered to us
through Christ’s work on the cross,
and of the ongoing spiritual nourishment he provides us.
It is also a celebration of the unity of Christ’s body,
the church, as well as a meal
of hope, of anticipating the heavenly
feast of Christ’s coming kingdom.
The Lord’s Supper is linked to nearly
every aspect of the gospel!
Hear the words of the institution of the Holy
Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ:
The Lord Jesus, on the night of his arrest, took
bread, and after giving thanks to God, he
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,
“Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. Do
this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup, saying, “This
cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed
for you for the forgiveness of sins. When ever you
drink it, do this in remembrance of me.”
Every time you eat this bread and drink this
cup, you proclaim the saving death of the risen
Lord until he comes.
With thanksgiving, let us offer God our grateful praise.
—based on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
[as the bread is shared]
The body of Christ, given for you.
Thanks be to God.
[as the cup is shared]
The blood of Christ, shed for you.
Thanks be to God.
A Call to Service and Benediction // The Sending & the Blessing
May God the Father, who does not despise the broken spirit,
give you a contrite heart.
May Christ, who bore our sins in his body on the tree,
heal you by his wounds.
May the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth,
speak to you words of pardon and peace. Amen.