Ash Wednesday '24


Lent begins with a solemn call to fasting and repentance as we begin our journey to the baptismal waters of Easter. As we hear in today's readings, now is the acceptable time to return to the Lord. During Lent the people of God will reflect on the meaning of their baptism into Christ's death and resurrection. The sign of ashes suggests our human mortality and frailty. What seems like an ending is really an invitation to make each day a new beginning, in which we are washed in God's mercy and forgiveness. With the cross on our brow, we long for the spiritual renewal that flows from the springtime Easter feast to come.


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray. Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

Wash me through and through from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

And so you are justified when you speak and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth, a sinner from my mother's womb.

For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

  and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the body you have broken may rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me the joy of your saving help again, and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

I shall teach your ways to the wicked, and sinners shall return to you.

Deliver me from death, O God, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,

  O God of my salvation.

Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,

  but you take no delight in burnt offerings.

The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart,

   O God, you will not despise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the

  beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen

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

The holy gospel according to Saint Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

SERMON SONG   “Create in Me a Clean Heart”           #186

SERMON                     "What Do the Ashes Say?"             Pastor Phil Wold

HYMN OF THE DAY     “In the Cross of Christ I Glory”          #324


Friends in Christ, today with the whole church we enter the time of remembering Jesus' passover from death to life, and our life in Christ is renewed.

We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and for God's mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation. But our sinful rebellion separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, so that we do not enjoy the life our creator intended.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Silence for reflection and self-examination.


The presiding minister leads the following or another confession.

Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.

The assembly kneels or sits. Silence is kept for reflection and self-examination.

Most holy and merciful God,

we confess to you and to one another,

and before the whole company of heaven,

that we have sinned by our fault,

by our own fault,

by our own most grievous fault,

in thought, word, and deed,

by what we have done and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.

Have mercy on us, O God.

We have shut our ears 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.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Our past unfaithfulness, the pride, envy, hypocrisy, and apathy that have infected our lives, we confess to you.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, we confess to you.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to share the faith that is in us, we confess to you.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Our neglect of human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, we confess to you.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Our false judgments, our uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, we confess to you.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, we confess to you.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Restore us, O God, and let your anger depart from us.

Hear us, O God, for your mercy is great.


When ashes are used in the service, the presiding minister may say the following prayer.

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth.

May these ashes be a sign of our mortality and penitence, reminding us

that only by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ are we given eternal life;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


People may come forward and kneel or stand to receive the ashes. Ministers mark the forehead of each person with a cross of ashes, saying:

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

After those who desire ashes have received them, all may kneel or sit, and the minister continues.

Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation,

that we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son, our Savior,

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

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life.




The peace of the Lord be with you always. And also with you.


Let us pray. God our provider, you have not fed us with bread alone,

but with words of grace and life. Bless us and these your gifts,

which we receive from your bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen


Merciful God, accompany our journey through these forty days. Renew us in the gift of baptism, that we may provide for those who are poor,  pray for those in need, fast from self-indulgence, and above all that we may find our treasure in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.

CLOSING HYMN          “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”           #789


Go forth into the world to serve God with gladness;

be of good courage;

 hold fast to that which is good;

  render to no one evil for evil;

strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak;

    help the afflicted; honor all people;

  love and serve God,

      rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God.

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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Beginning next Wednesday, February 21st, our midweek Lenten service will be preceded by a Lenten Supper at 6 p.m. in the fellowship hall. 

We thank the Worship and Music Committee and BASICS for cooking and serving our first Lenten Supper. 

Please contact the church office if you are willing to cook and serve one of these Lenten Suppers.