On this Ash Wednesday, we encounter Jesus as he rebuked the Pharisees for their outward-only portrayal of righteousness. They did what they did to be noticed, to be viewed in the synagogues and on the streets, and cared little of their actual heart righteousness, the kind the Father seeks. The Father, however, sees in secret, and he rewards those who perform acts not to be seen by others but rather to please him. The Father sees what we do in secret, and he will reward us openly. In contrast to outward show, the Lord’s prayer provides the way in which we ought to pray: the prayer is neither repetition nor rote words, but reveals relationship and submission to God and his will.
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Lord Jesus Christ, you descended into the womb of the Virgin and ascended the wood of the Cross for our salvation. By our Lenten observances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, teach us true self-denial and genuine attachment of your holy will for us. You live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
~ William G. Story. A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions: Praying the Seasons and Feasts of the Church Year. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2004. p. 78.
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)
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
An annual reading through the Bible in the order in which the events took place
Wednesday: Josh. 20-21; 1 Chron. 6.54-81
Lectionary Readings for the Day
Psalm: Ps. 51.1-17
OT: Isa. 58.1-12
Gospel: Matt. 6.1-21
NT: 2 Cor. 5.20b-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.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, let Thy gracious favour carry us through the fast which we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily discipline, so we may be able to fulfil it with sincerity of mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ Gelasian Sacramentary. In William Bright. Ancient Collects and Other Prayers: Selected for Devotional Use from Various Rituals, 8th ed. Oxford and London: James Parker, 1908. p. 31.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Heavenly Father, let your Kingdom come, and let your will be done in heaven and on earth.
“Whatever conclusion we reach, 1 Corinthians 14 surely speaks to us of the value and importance of spontaneous, verbal ministries of exhortation, comfort or admonition by congregational members (cf. 1 Thes. 4:18; 5:11, 14; Eph. 4:15). Such mutual ministry is often confined to the home group, or to times of personal interaction after church services. Why is it not also encouraged in the public gathering of the whole church? Many Christian traditions rightly emphasize the need for regular and systematic exposition of Scripture and the teaching of ‘sound doctrine’ by those gifted and appointed for this task (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6, 11, 13; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:1–2, 14–15; 4:1–5; Tit. 1:9). If the balance of New Testament teaching is to be preserved, however, there should be some space for the informal contributions of members.”
~ David G. Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992. pp. 197.
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
Jesus Fulfills the Law, Matthew 5.13-20
Peterson, Engaging with God