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Scripture: Matthew 6: 5-19
Music: When the Wind of Winter Blows
Prelude (Dust and Ashes)
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
As we gather on this Day of Ashes, we remember the frailty of life, the brokenness we carry, and the things that divide this world.
We seek Christ’s Way of strength in humility,
and faith shared in hope and love.
The ashes speak of our mortality, and invite us to cherish all the more what we have been given. The oil speaks of God’s anointing, the Good News of forgiveness.
On the eve of Lent, we gather to name the shadows of the world, and seek God’s light. We remember our shortcomings, and remember that God’s mercy is always ours.
We call our wounds and grief to mind, and recall God’s healing and renewing love. We gather to pray for healing in our souls, and reconciliation among God’s people. silence
Hear our prayer, O God, and in your love, answer. Amen.
Matthew 6: 1-21
Hymn Dust and Ashes Touch Our Face (VU 105)
Story of the Ashes
When time was new and the world was fresh, God took a handful of dust and breathed into it the breath of life. The world was filled with the presence of God, and human people lived in joy. God saw the world, and saw that it was good.
Yet, there was also brokenness. A flood could not quench the peoples’ thirst for other things; the prophets could not kindle the flame of trust within God’s people; leaders could not judge rightly, nor agree on how to follow God’s law.
In the midst of life and history, Jesus proclaimed God’s healing and forgiveness. Mercy mended broken hearts, and joy invigorated minds and souls. Shackles broke, prison doors flew open, and the captives of violence and fear were released.
This way of Love, however, led to the cross. The world could not yet embrace God’s freedom and peace. The Empty Tomb stands as a promise of what is to come, yet what held us back then holds us back now: fear and intolerance, ego and lack of compassion. These have yet to be set aside for all, and for good.
So tonight, we place these griefs into the fire of God’s love. We bring before God our imperfection, the concerns of this life, the burdens of this world. We bring this shattered year, our fatigue and frustration, our distance from those we love, the lives upended by pandemic dangers and the lives that have been lost.
These griefs that haunt us we place now, like old palms, on the fire of God’s loving redemption. We pray for a renewal of spirit, a renewal of all the world, in the light of God’s vision for all life. We pray for mercy and for and the mending of the world. silence
We bring before you, O God, our distractions and fears
and seek your light within the shadows.
We bring before you, O God, our grief and our loss,
and seek your healing and hope.
We bring before you, O God, our prayers for your world and your people, and seek your peace through justice.
We bring before you, O God, all that is death,
that you might breathe again the life of your Spirit within us.
Blessing and Benediction
Postlude (Dust and Ashes)