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Ash Wednesday

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text

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Ash Wednesday: Text

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text

First Reading

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 (NIV)

Verse 1-2

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.

Verse 12-17

“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?’”

Ash Wednesday: Text

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text

Call To Confession

May God the Father,

who does not despise the broken spirit,

give us contrite hearts.

May Christ, who bore our sins in his body on the tree,

heal us by his wounds.

May the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth,

speak words of pardon and peace.

Praying together --

Loving God, you call us to be the salt of the earth,
but too often we consider your way to be bland,
and we miss the delight of life filled with flavor
that spreads from us to those around us.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us be more like Jesus.
You call us to be the light of the world,
but too often our actions do not bring praise to you.
We make choices that help us blend into our culture
rather than stand out as your people.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us be more like Jesus.
You call us to settle matters quickly,
but too often we nurse grudges
and look for ways to settle scores on our own terms.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us be more like Jesus.
You call us to go the second mile,
but too often we consider our own convenience first,
passing up opportunities to show love to our neighbor.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us be more like Jesus. Amen.

Ash Wednesday: Text

Call of Assurance

The Almighty God has mercy on you,
and forgives all of your sins
through our Lord, Jesus Christ,
who strengthens you in all goodness and shall keep you in eternal life,
by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Ash Wednesday: Text
Image by Tim Mossholder

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).

Ash Wednesday: Give

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text

The Gospel Reading

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (NRSV)

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ash Wednesday: Text

Closing Prayer

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text

Ministry of Ashes

Lord God, it is hard to think that we will die someday.
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.
Almighty God,
you have created us out of the dust of the earth.
May these ashes remind us of our mortality and repentance
and teach us again that only by your gracious gift
are we given everlasting life
through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

“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. 

Putting on ashes symbolizes our fragility and mortality. By putting on these ashes with the sign of the cross we are saying that our hearts are open  and our lives are here to imitate Jesus who lived with an open heart to his Heavenly Father and to the pains of this world. These ashes in the sign of the cross are a sign of hope. They are a mark that says where sin once abounded, grace abounds all the more.

More than an external sign, we receive ashes reminding us that in our innermost being, we trust God for this life and the next. Our hope is found in God's faithfulness to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

Ash Wednesday: Text
Image by James Coleman
Ash Wednesday: Text

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text

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.

Ash Wednesday: Text
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