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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 we 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, 
for the mercy and forgiveness
proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ,

and for the help of our God who gives us grace to keep us from falling. Amen.

Ash Wednesday: Text

First Reading

Isaiah 58:1–12 (NLT)

    “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. 
      Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. 
    Tell my people Israel of their sins! 
    Yet they act so pious! 
    They come to the Temple every day 
      and seem delighted to learn all about me. 
    They act like a righteous nation 
      that would never abandon the laws of its God. 
    They ask me to take action on their behalf, 
      pretending they want to be near me. 
    'We have fasted before you!’ they say. 
      ‘Why aren’t you impressed? 
    We have been very hard on ourselves, 
      and you don’t even notice it!’ 
    “I will tell you why!” I respond. 
      “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. 
    Even while you fast, 
      you keep oppressing your workers. 
    What good is fasting 
      when you keep on fighting and quarreling? 
    This kind of fasting 
      will never get you anywhere with me. 
    You humble yourselves 
      by going through the motions of penance, 
    bowing your heads 
      like reeds bending in the wind. 
    You dress in burlap 
      and cover yourselves with ashes. 
    Is this what you call fasting? 
      Do you really think this will please the LORD? 

    “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: 
    Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; 
      lighten the burden of those who work for you. 
    Let the oppressed go free, 
      and remove the chains that bind people. 
    Share your food with the hungry, 
      and give shelter to the homeless. 
    Give clothes to those who need them, 
      and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 

    “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, 
      and your wounds will quickly heal. 
    Your godliness will lead you forward, 
      and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. 
    Then when you call, the LORD will answer. 
      ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. 
    “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. 
      Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! 
    Feed the hungry, 
      and help those in trouble. 
    Then your light will shine out from the darkness, 
      and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. 
    The LORD will guide you continually, 
      giving you water when you are dry 
      and restoring your strength. 
    You will be like a well-watered garden, 
      like an ever-flowing spring. 
    Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. 
      Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls 
      and a restorer of homes.

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 (NLT)

We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

Ash Wednesday: Text

The Gospel Reading

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (NLT)

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

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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