Week 14: Ash Wednesday

When Nathan the prophet exposed David’s adultery to him (after he had gone in to Bathsheba) in contrition and brokenness, David confessed his sin to God. He implored God to have mercy upon him according to his steadfast love and abundant mercy. He appealed to God for cleansing, and openly acknowledged his shameful deeds to God. David pleaded with God to remove his sin, to restore the joy of his salvation, and to renew his soul by providing him a clean heart and a right spirit. If God would not take his Holy Spirit from him and would hear his prayer, David promised to teach God’s ways to sinners, sing of his forgiveness, and praise God always.

Let us now, then, set forth on this journey with the Lord, carrying our cross, and following him as he leads us. Let us offer to the Lord a broken spirit and a contrite heart. If we offer them, he will not despise them – he will accept them – and transform us.

Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Almighty God, we beseech Thee to hear our prayers for all who sin against Thee, or neglect to serve Thee, all who forget Thee, all who leave Thee out of their lives. O Lord, have mercy upon them; bestow upon us all true repentance and an earnest longing for Thyself. Vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to strengthen and confirm all Thy faithful people, and to lift up the light of Thy face upon them, giving them continually heavenly desires; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~ From an Ancient Collect, A.D. 440, in Selina Fitzherbert Fox.
A Chain of Prayer Across the Ages: Forty Centuries of Prayer, 2000 B.C.-A.D. 1916.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1943. p. 104.

Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.

Te Deum Laudamus 
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.

Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)

Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.

Chronological Reading for the Day
Ash Wednesday: Judg. 16-18

Lectionary Readings
Psalm: Ps. 51.1-17
OT: Isa. 58.1-12
Gospel: Matt. 6.1-6, 16-21
NT: 2 Cor. 5.20-6.10

(Click here for all readings)
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling

The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).

Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.

Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.

Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)

Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Benediction 
We beseech Thee, our most gracious God, preserve us from the cares of this life, lest we shoudl be too much entangled therein; also from the many necessities of the body, lest we should be ensnared by pleasure; and from whatsoever is an obstacle to the soul, lest, being broken with troubles, we should be overthrown. Give us strength to resist, patience to endure, and constancy to persevere; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

~ Thomas á Kempis, A.D. 1379, in Selina Fitzherbert Fox,
A Chain of Prayer Across the Ages: Forty Centuries of Prayer, 2000 B.C.-A.D. 1916.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1943. p. 217.

Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Weekly Reflection on the Priesthood of all Believers
If a man is a Christian the indwelling Life and constraining love of Christ will impel him to go into all his portion of the world and seek lost people for Christ. This will be the normal activity in the main business of his life. What the love of God was and did through Christ when he was among men, it will also be and do through Christians when they are among men. The life of God must act if it is in us, and it must act according to its nature. True Christians, who are in normal spiritual health, will give their lives to seek the lost, using their secular pursuits to pay expenses. The mainline business of their lives will be the same as that of Christ.

~ Roy J. Fish and J. E. Conant, Every Member Evangelism for Today.
Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1976. p. 53.

Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
That I May Gain Christ, Philippians 3.4-14

Book Reading
Fish and Conant, Every Member Evangelism for Today