Ash Wednesday – February 14, 2018

It’s hard to take a selfie of your forehead!

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

I’d also like to say that I struggled with the decision to offer glitter.  I read the articles and the comments about keeping the somber mood of Lent sacred.  I appreciate that.  But I also recognize that many people have been made to feel ashamed because of their sexuality, culture, race, even theology (just to name a few ways) by atonement, repentance and confessional theology expressed in the church.  The opportunity to regain some of the dignity we have mistakenly taken far outweighs the traditional history that can continue to be mistaken as “You are not worthy.” This was never the case.  I added glitter for those whose resilience was weakened, whose dignity was diminished, who felt devalued and shunned.  More importantly I added glitter for those who continue to feel that way.  I kept a somber and traditional atmosphere, but encouraged everyone to add from the table of symbols to their own little pot of ashes which I applied to each persons own forehead.  Next year, out of respect for those who wish to uphold the solemn tradition, I will offer both options again.  But I not so secretly hope that everyone will wish to choose the glitter option.

Hymn: When Painful Mem’ries MV 74
Let us acknowledge the awesome mystery
embodied in every person.
Through us God comes to unique
and personal expression.

Let us give thanks for the abundance
of life on this earth.
Through it we and all people may be nourished.

Let us be in silence together. (R Hunt)

Lighting of the Community Candle
Fire is your sacrament, O God, fire is sacred.

We light this flame to affirm that new light
is ever waiting to break through to enlighten our ways:
that new truth is ever waiting
to break through to illumine our minds,
and that new love is ever waiting
to break through to warm our hearts.  (CAHowe)

Lighting of the Personal Candles
People come forward to light their tea candle
and place it on the table around the Community candle

Out of nothingness we came through birth into life:
With the Spirit of God within us.

From the life of God the universe unfolded into being
With the Spirit of God within it.

From the heart of God creation goes on till the end of time
With the Spirit of God within it and with our spirit within it.

Let us embrace the God who enfolds us
We delight in God. (Pitt St Uniting Church, adapted)

Reading from John 10:1-18

Hymn: Kyrie Eleison MV 69

We remember the stories…

How Jesus gathered with friends and foes
to tell them of a re-imagined way of living and being.
A way that did not conform to the standards of the Roman Empire
or any other system of governance
that suppressed people
until starvation and deprivation resulted in death. (S Weinberg)

In this way, the issues of life and death,
justice and injustice,
conflict and peace,
goodness and evil
were talked through and made real to ordinary people.

Bread and Cup
So in our time and in this place, with today’s issues before us,
let us continue the tradition: to break bread together.

We remember what that tradition says…
At the end of a journey, among friends,
gathered round a table…
Jesus took bread, gave thanks, and broke it:
‘This bread is broken, as my body will be’.
Break Bread

And he handed it to his friends, and invited them to eat:
‘Remember all that I have been to you’.

We remember…
Jesus poured the cup, offered thanks for it,
and gave it to his friends:
‘This cup is poured out as my life will be.
As you drink give thanks for all I have given’.
Pour Cup

Bread… Cup… an outward sign of an inward grace.

May the spirit within us
be a source of healing and consolation.
May the spirit within us
strengthen us when we feel weak,
warm us when we are cold-hearted,
bend us when we are stubborn,
move us when we are uncaring,
guide us in the way of love.

May the spirit within us
shine in all we do. (R Hunt, adapted)

By eating this bread and this cup
we become one in hope. (R Hunt, adapted)


After Communion
May our sharing become sharing with the world.
May our blessing become blessing for the world.
May our lives become living assurance
of the presence of compassion in the world. (R Hunt, adapted)

The Ashes
Ash Wednesday invites us to come back to earth.
To wonder at the gift of life,
my life – our life
with the earth, the shared body of our existence.

These ashes were once trees and shrubs,
and places where life was lived to its fullest.
Once they were full of life.
Now they are black and grey.
Dry.  Lifeless.

But mixed with the oil and water of our baptism
make good fertiliser:
it will help the seeds of the gospel take deeper root in us
and bring forth the fruits,
the harvest of justice, peace, and generosity.

These are ashes worth wearing.
For from the burnt ashes will spring the green shoot of life
and the purple flower of attentiveness to God. (R Hunt)

Preparation of Ashes

The Fire represents purification and the opportunity to start fresh.

The Bread & Cup represent our communion together and our acceptance of one another.

The Mirror represents the opportunity to reflect on our lives throughout the season of Lent.

The Palms represent the past year and everything that came with it.

The Oil represents healing and anointing.

The Water represents our baptism and our choice to be people of grace.

The Glitter represents the resilience of people who have been shamed by the church and yet still rise above it.  It also reminds us of the Cosmic Christ that lives on in each of us.

The Ashes themselves represent mourning and grief, our wearing them represents our confession that we are Christians, that we are imperfect and we are enough.

Those who wish to be marked came forward, and mixed the symbols of their personal choice.

We pray:
May these ashes be blessed in our wearing.
May they be for us a symbol of our return to the earth.

May we be blessed.
May we be earthed in everlasting love,
as forgiven and forgiving people.


Hymn: Bless the Lord MV 46

Words of Blessing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *