Your preparation for this service in your home
My Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,
Since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. It is the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and self-denial. This season is a period of 6 weeks before Easter and is known as Lent. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. This year it begins for us on Wednesday 17 February. This Ash Wednesday service, which you will share with Christians throughout the world, is an invitation for personal examination and repentance. It is intended to be an opportunity for cleansing our hearts as we journey towards the Easter Cross and Resurrection of Jesus.
You need to prepare some ash that you will use in your service. The ash is best made from the fine fronds of palm trees or some fine grass. Feel free to use whatever is available to you, but try to crush it into a fine powder. You only need a small quantity. This ash will be placed on the forehead during the service, with the mark of a cross. If you have gathered as a Family then you can take turns placing that mark on each other.
When you have prepared the ash then you need to prepare your heart and mind to be open to the cleansing work the Holy Spirit. This requires from us all a deep honesty, honesty in our prayers and openness to hearing God’s word.
May this service be a Blessing to you and your loved ones and may it transcend the experience of isolation during this very difficult shut down throughout our world. Please hold this service in your home on
Ash Wednesday, and when you do, remember that you are joining Christian Brothers and Sisters around the World. I suggest that you hold the service around the family table and if possible followed with a meal.
Your service begins on the next page.
THE ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE
Say this prayer together:
Almighty and merciful God,
you hate nothing that you have made,
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent.
Create in us new and contrite hearts,
so that when we turn to you
and confess our sins
we may receive
your full and perfect forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HEARING GOD’S WORD
Read Psalm 63
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
Reflect on this thought about the Psalm:
The Psalm was written by King David. The content tells us that he is in the desert of Judah. We all go through desert experiences. In this shut down period our spirits can feel parched. Like David we need to cling to God and never stop worshiping Him. Verse 3 is so powerful, and is water to the soul. David says “because Your Love is better than life, my lips will glorify You”
Praising God regardless of any circumstance in which we find ourselves is the deepest expression of faith.
Spend a few moments now quietly praising Him in your heart.
PREPARING OUR HEARTS WITH CONFESSION
Everyone present says this prayer aloud:
Holy and merciful God we confess to you and to one another,
That we have sinned in our thoughts, and our words, and our deeds.
I have not loved you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
I have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
I have not loved others as Christ has loved us.
I have not forgiven others as I have been forgiven.
I have grieved your Holy Spirit.
I confess our preoccupation with worldly goods and comforts,
I confess my blindness to human need and suffering,
my indifference to injustice and cruelty,
my misuse and pollution of creation,
and my lack of concern for the generations to come.
I confess my negligence in prayer and worship,
and my failure to commend Jesus to others.
Lord have mercy and cleanse my by Your Holy Spirit.
BLESSING THE ASHES
One person says this prayer.
You created us from the dust of the earth.
Let these ashes be for us a sign of our repentance and a symbol of our mortality.
May we always remember that by your grace alone we are given eternal life;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
PLACE THE ASH ON EACH OTHER’S FOREHEAD WITH THE SIGN OF THE CROSS AND THESE WORDS:
“Turn away from sin and be faithful to your Lord Jesus Christ”
After receiving the ashes, close your service saying this prayer and blessing together:
Dear Heavenly Father
We thank You that through this cleansing by Your Spirit You are for us the Lord of new beginnings. Thank You that Your love is a love that creates those new beginnings in our hearts, our thoughts and our daily lives. We thank You that Your love was shown in Jesus to be the most powerful force that the world will ever know.
In His precious name we pray.
Grace, mercy and Peace from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is with us now and always.