Ash Wednesday 17th Feb.

Ash Wednesday 17th February 2021

Rev Margaret Cranston

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection and prepared for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

By carefully keeping these days, Christians take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.

 

Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

 

Let us pray for grace to keep Lent faithfully.

Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin and through the death of your Son bring us healing and make us whole in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Reading: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

 

Meditation of Matthew         

Are we called to a faith that doesn’t show,

a commitment none can see?

It sounds like it, from those words of Jesus,

yet he’d spoken, just moments earlier, of letting our light shine,

our good works speaking to others of God.

It’s no incognito discipleship we’re called to,

a faith ashamed to own its name,

but it’s no self-serving discipleship either,

speaking more of us than him.

And, believe me, that can happen, more easily than you might think.

Those hypocrites he spoke of . . .

do you think they set out to parade their virtue?

Perhaps they do now,

but once they were probably as sincere as any,

their prayers, armsgiving and fasting a sign of true devotion . . .

only for outward show, over the years, to replace inner substance.

Our relationships can grow stale, even when it comes from God,

what previously was as natural as breathing

becoming artificial, forced, put on for appearance only.

That’s what Jesus was warning against –

faith becoming a façade,

more about being seen to look the part than anything real underneath.

Don’t think about your good works, still less display them,

or they’ll be good no longer, simply a means to an end.

Keep them between yourself and God,

a spontaneous loving response,

and then, truly, you’ll give glory to him.                                [Nick Fawcett]

 

Prayer

Keep my faith real, Lord, fresh and alive. Save me from it ever becoming a matter of habit or duty, a going through the motions masking a lack of substance beneath. Nurture and nourish our relationship with you, so that our love always remain as natural, deep and sincere as the day on which it first was born. Amen

 

Hymn: Before the throne of God above

 

Let us now call to mind our sin and the infinite mercy of God.

God the Father, have mercy on us.

God the Son, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Trinity of love, have mercy on us.

 

Most merciful God,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned

in thought, word and deed.

 

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

Lord, have mercy.

 

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.

We have not been true to the mind of Christ.

We have grieved your Holy Spirit.

Lord, have mercy.

 

We confess to you, Lord …

all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy and impatience of our lives.

Lord, have mercy.

 

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people.

Lord, have mercy.

 

Our anger at our own frustration and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.

Lord, have mercy.

 

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts and our dishonesty in daily life and work.

Lord, have mercy.

 

Our negligence in prayer and worship and our failure to commend the faith that is in us.

Lord, have mercy.

 

Accept our repentance, Lord for the wrongs we have done,

for our blindness to human need and suffering,

and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.

Accept our repentance, Lord.

 

For all false judgements,

for uncharitable thoughts towards our neighbours

and for our prejudice and contempt towards those who differ from us.

Accept our repentance, Lord.

 

For our waste and pollution of your creation

and our lack of concern for those who come after us.

Accept our repentance, Lord.

 

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us.

Favourably hear us, for your mercy is great.

 

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,

that we may show your glory in the world.

 

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,

bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

 

Silence is kept.

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are,

and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly, love mercy,

and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

 

God our Father, the strength of all who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers;

and because, in our weakness, we can do nothing good without you,

grant us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments

we may please you, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and for ever. Amen.

 

Hymn: Forty Days and Forty Nights

 

A time of turning round      

Truly dust we are, and to dust we shall return;

and truly yours we are, and to you we shall return.

Help this to be a time of turning round and beginning again.

Through the forty days of Lent, help us to follow you

and to find you: in the discipline of praying

and in the drudgery of caring –

in whatever we deny ourselves,

and whatever we set ourselves to learn or do.

Help us to discover you

in our loneliness and in community,

in our emptiness and our fulfilment,

in our sadness and our laughter.

Help us to find you when we ourselves are lost.

Help us to follow you on the journey to Jerusalem

to the waving of palms of the people’s hope,

to their rejection, to the cross and empty tomb.

Help us to perceive new growth amid the ashes of the old.

Help us, carrying your cross, to be signs of your kingdom. Amen     [Jan Sutch Pickard]

 

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