Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Holy Communion on the First Day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), 7:30 p.m.

The livestream may be found here. You need not have a Facebook account to watch the livestream.



‘‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ These words from Genesis 3 may be seen as primitive science, but this primitive science is not necessarily antithetical to today’s science which tells us that both the stuff of our bodies and everything around us was once at the heart of a star. Both stories tell us that we are formed from inert material; made from the stuff of the universe.


But to know ourselves as created, and not only created, but limited by death, is by extension to give acknowledgement to a creator to whom we also must give account. While we are formed beings, dust is formless and can easily be scattered. We are not gods: we are frail and mortal.


The Church embraces the sign of ashes to begin the penitential season of Lent. In Lent we recall not only our physical mortality, but our thralldom to ‘death of the spirit:’ everything that separates us from God and our neighbor. We fast from the good things of the earth to remind us of our dependence upon God for all things and how often we have declared independence from him in reaching out for what is not ours. We intensify our prayer life; we give to those in need, in remembrance that the good we do to our neighbor we do to Christ himself.  In all of these things we seek to live the life of turning toward God that is true repentance.


The readings for the Ash Wednesday service remind us of the traditional activities and attitudes of Lent. The passage from Joel calls the people to a solemn assembly, a fast, urging them ‘Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.’ This was an ancient Israelite liturgical praise of God, found in many books of the Old Testament. The God of the Old Testament is the gracious God who calls us and seeks us out in Jesus Christ.


Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of confession and repentance after his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah. It can be a reminder of our desire to judge others, as we are less likely than God to forgive David’s brutal victimization of others. However, we are given confidence when we remember that God’s mercy extends to all, and that indeed God works true repentance in the sinner and not simply a pretense of piety.


Saint Paul calls the Corinthians to be reconciled to God. The moment of the Word’s encounter with the hearer is the ‘acceptable time,’ the ‘day of salvation’ which the Psalms promise.


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his disciples, who are to be ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world,’ to avoid almsgiving, prayer, and fasting which are mere pretenses in order to gain approval of self and others. Rather these practices are to be done without drawing attention to the self – they are directed toward God. We are promised that there will be a reward for them – and the reward is God himself, for these spiritual disciplines bring forth fruits of the Spirit.


The congregation and ministers gather in silence.


OPENING MUSIC                                                 Out of the Depths I Cry to You

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I.        F.W. Zachau

II.                  Jean  Langlais


Please meditate on the text of the hymn as it is played:


1              Out of the depths I cry to you;

                O Father, hear me calling.

                Incline your ear to my distress

                in spite of my rebelling.

                Do not regard my sinful deeds.

                Send me the grace my spirit needs;

                without it I am nothing.


2              All things you send are full of grace;

                you crown our lives with favor.

                All our good works are done in vain

                without our Lord and Savior.

                We praise the God who gives us faith

                and saves us from the grip of death;

                our lives are in his keeping.


3              It is in God that we shall hope,

                and not in our own merit.

                We rest our fears in his good Word

                and trust his Holy Spirit.

                His promise keeps us strong and sure;

                we trust the holy signature

                inscribed upon our temples.


4             My soul is waiting for the Lord

                as one who longs for morning;

                no watcher waits with greater hope

                than I for his returning.

                I hope as Israel in the Lord;

                he sends redemption through his Word.

                We praise him for his mercy.


Text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546; tr. Gracia Grindal, b. 1943

© 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress


PSALMODY:    Psalm 51:1-18


1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your | lovingkindness;*

                in your great compassion blot out | my offenses.

2Wash me through and through | from my wickedness,*

                and cleanse me | from my sin.

3For I know | my transgressions,*

                and my sin is ev- | er before me.

4Against you only | have I sinned*

                and done what is evil | in your sight.

5And so you are justified | when you speak*

                and upright | in your judgment.

6Indeed, I have been wicked | from my birth,*

                a sinner from my | mother's womb.

7For behold, you look for truth | deep within me,*

                and will make me understand | wisdom secretly.

8Purge me from my sin, and I | shall be pure;*

                wash me, and I shall be | clean indeed.

9Make me hear of | joy and gladness,*

                that the body you have broken | may rejoice.

10Hide your face | from my sins,*

                and blot out all | my iniquities.

11Create in me a clean | heart, O God,*

                and renew a right spir- | it within me.

12Cast me not away | from your presence,*

                and take not your Holy | Spirit from me.

13Give me the joy of your saving | help again*

                and sustain me with your boun- | tiful Spirit.

14I shall teach your ways | to the wicked,*

                and sinners shall re- | turn to you.

15Deliver me from | death, O God,*

                and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,

O God of | my salvation.

16Open my | lips, O Lord,*

                and my mouth shall pro- | claim your praise.

17Had you desired it, I would have | offered sacrifice,*

                but you take no delight | in burnt-offerings.

18The sacrifice of God is a | troubled spirit;*

                a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will | not despise.





The Pastor addresses the congregation.


Brothers and sisters: God created us to experience joy in communion with him, to love all humanity, and to live in harmony with all of his creation. But sin separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, and so we do not enjoy the life our Creator intended for us. Also, by our sin we grieve our Father, who does not desire us to come under his judgment, but to turn to him and live.


As disciples of the Lord Jesus we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from love of God and neighbor. Repentance, fasting, prayer, and works of love--the discipline of Lent--help us to wage our spiritual warfare. I invite you, therefore, to commit yourselves to this struggle and confess your sins, asking our Father for strength to persevere in your Lenten discipline.



Silence for reflection and self-examination.


The minister leads the congregation in confession:


Most holy and merciful Father:

  We confess to you and to one another, and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own 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, Lord.


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.

  Have mercy on us, Lord.


We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness. The pride, hypocrisy, and impatience in our lives,

  we confess to you, Lord.


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

  we confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at the frustration of our desires, and our covetousness of the worldly goods of others,

  we confess to you, Lord.


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

  we confess to you, Lord.


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

  we confess to you, Lord.


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 judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward 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.

  Hear us, Lord, for your mercy is great. Amen



The pastor will invite the people, one person or family unit at a time, to come forward as a sign of repentance. Come to the table at the front of the chancel, where a bowl of ashes has been placed. (Do not touch the ashes.) The pastor makes the sign of the cross over the penitent and says:


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



Should you not desire to come forward, please indicate this with a shake of the head when the pastor invites you forward.


After all who desire have come forward, the congregation stands, and the minister leads the congregation in the conclusion of the confession.


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 Lord,

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


Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, does not desire the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live. Therefore we implore him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on this day, that the rest of our life may be pure and holy, and that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.




Silence for reflection.



Prayer of the Day

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.                                                   




First Reading                                                                    Joel 2:1–2, 12–17


Blow the trumpet in Zion;

                sound the alarm on my holy mountain!

                Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,

                for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near —

                2 a day of darkness and gloom,

                a day of clouds and thick darkness!

                Like blackness spread upon the mountains

                a great and powerful army comes;

                their like has never been from of old,

                nor will be again after them

                in ages to come.

12 Yet even now, says the LORD,

                return to me with all your heart,

                with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

                13 rend your hearts and not your clothing.

                Return to the LORD, your God,

                for he is gracious and merciful,

                slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,

                and relents from punishing.

14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,

                and leave a blessing behind him,

                a grain offering and a drink offering

                for the LORD, your God?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;

                sanctify a fast;

                call a solemn assembly;

                16 gather the people.

                Sanctify the congregation;

                assemble the aged;

                gather the children,

                even infants at the breast.

                Let the bridegroom leave his room,

                and the bride her canopy.

                17 Between the vestibule and the altar

                let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep.

                Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD,

                and do not make your heritage a mockery,

                a byword among the nations.

                Why should it be said among the peoples,

                'Where is their God?'"


The Word of the Lord.                  

  Thanks be to God.


PSALM 103:8-14

The psalm is read responsively between the pastor and the people.


The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.                                                     (vs. 1)

  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.


8 The Lord is full of compas- | sion and mercy,*

                slow to anger and | of great kindness.

9 He will not al- | ways accuse us,*

                nor will he keep his an- | ger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according | to our sins,*

                nor rewarded us according | to our wickedness.

11 For as the heavens are high | above the earth,*

                so is his mercy great upon | those who fear him.

12 As far as the east is | from the west,*

                so far has he removed our | sins from us.

13 As a father cares | for his children,*

                so does the Lord care for | those who fear him.

14 For he himself knows whereof | we are made;*

                he remembers that we | are but dust.


The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.


Second Reading                                     2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10


20 We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

                "At an acceptable time I have listened to you,

                and on a day of salvation I have helped you."

                See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see — we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.


The Word of the Lord.                  

  Thanks be to God.




Return to the Lord, your God, who is gracious and merciful,

  slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.                            Joel 2:13


Gospel                                                                                Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21


The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.   

  Glory to you, O Lord.


[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1 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.

                2 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. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                5 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. 6 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.

                16 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. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 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.

                19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


The Gospel of the Lord.                

  Praise to you, O Christ.




HYMN OF THE DAY                                                                                   O Sun of Justice


Please meditate on the text of the hymn as it is played.



1              O Sun of justice, Jesus Christ,

                dispel the darkness of our hearts,

                till your blest light makes nighttime flee

                and brings the joys your day imparts.


2              In this our “time acceptable”

                touch ev’ry heart with sorrow, Lord,

                that, turned from sin, renewed by grace,

                we may press on toward love’s reward.


3              The day, your day, in beauty dawns

                when in your light earth blooms anew;

                led back again to life’s true way,

                may we, forgiv’n, rejoice in you.


4             O loving Trinity, our God,

                to you we bow through endless days,

                and in your grace new-born we sing

                new hymns of gratitude and praise. Amen


Text: Latin hymn, 6th cent.; tr. Peter J. Scagnelli, b. 1949

Tr. © Peter J. Scagnelli




Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.


Silence is kept.


For the health and well-being of the whole Church, let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


For the mission of our faith family, let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


For our bishop, Dan; our pastors, Maurice and Harvey, and all pastors, let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


For those throughout the world who prepare for baptism in this season of Lent, let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


For those who hold civil authority in our nation and in the nations of the world, and for those who work for peace, justice, health and protection in this and every place, let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


For the sick in body, mind, and spirit; for those who are in prison; for the poor, the isolated, and those with no one to care for them, and for those we name before you:


The People may intercede for others aloud or in silence.


Let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


For the time when our sinful selves are fully purged in the waters of baptism, and we rejoice with the saints in the revelation of Christ, let us pray to the Lord.

  Lord, have mercy.


Into your hands, Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your steadfast love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.




Since we are justified by faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has given us access to his grace.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.   

  And also with you.


The people exchange a sign of peace with the simple words, Peace be with you.



The Lord’s Table is prepared.



Let us pray. Merciful Father,

  turn us from sin to faithfulness            

  and from disobedience to love,

  and prepare us to celebrate

  the death and resurrection

  of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen




The Lord be with you.                                   

  And also with you.                     

Lift up your hearts.                                         

  We lift them to the Lord.                        

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.                                  

  It is right to give him thanks and praise.


We give you thanks, Father,

through Jesus Christ, your beloved Son,

                whom you sent in this end of the ages

                to save and redeem us and to proclaim to us your will.


He is your Word,

                inseparable from you.

Through him you created all things,

                and in him you take delight.


He is your Word,

                sent from heaven to a virgin's womb.

He there took on our nature and our lot

                and was shown forth as your Son,

                born of the Holy Spirit and of the virgin Mary.


It is he, our Lord Jesus, who fulfilled all your will

                and won for you a holy people;

                he stretched out his hands in suffering

                in order to free from suffering those who trust you.


It is he who, handed over to a death he freely accepted,

                in order to destroy death, to break the bonds of the evil one,

                to crush hell underfoot, to give light to the righteous,

                to establish his covenant, and to show forth the resurrection,

                taking bread and giving thanks to you, said:

Take and eat; this is my body, broken for you.

Do this for the remembrance of me.



In the same way he took the cup, gave thanks,

                and gave it for all to drink, saying:

This is my blood poured out for you.

Do this for the remembrance of me.


Remembering, then, his death and resurrection,

                we lift this bread and cup before you,

                giving you thanks that you have made us worthy

                to stand before you and to serve you as your priestly people.


And we ask you:

                Send your Spirit upon these gifts of your Church;

                gather into one all who share this bread and wine;

                fill us with your Holy Spirit to establish our faith in truth,

                that we may praise and glorify you

through your Son Jesus Christ.


Through him all glory and honor are yours,

                Almighty Father, with the Holy Spirit,

                in your holy Church both now and forever.



Christ is in our midst.

By the power of the Spirit,

we pray to his Father, saying:



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


Where your treasure is,

  there your heart shall be also.                                                 Matthew 6:21

We adore Christ with the words of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).


Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;           

   have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;

  have mercy on us.        

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;

  Grant us peace.                                                               

John 1:29, see also Luke 17:13




Admission to the Sacrament is by invitation of the Lord, presented through the Church to those who are baptized.


They may receive the Lord’s Body and Blood who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, who commune in their home churches, and who believe that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is truly present in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.


The communicants will be invited forward one family unit at a time. Please do not come forward until the pastor directs you to come forward, do not approach all the way to the table until the pastor has retreated, and please do not remove your mask until you have reached the table with the elements on it.


 When the pastor says ‘The body of Christ, given for you,’ eat the bread. When the pastor says, ‘The blood of Christ, shed for you,’ drink the wine.  Please take the plate and the glass(es) and place them on the table that is indicated. Please put your mask on before returning to your seat.



Please meditate on the text of the hymn as it is played.


Today Your Mercy Calls Us


1              Today your mercy calls us

                to wash away our sin.

                However great our trespass,

                whatever we have been,

                however long from mercy

                our hearts have turned away,

                your precious blood can wash us

                and make us clean today.


2              Today your gate is open,

                and all who enter in

                shall find a Father’s welcome

                and pardon for their sin.

                The past shall be forgotten,

                a present joy be giv’n,

                a future grace be promised,

                a glorious crown in heav’n.


3              Today our Father calls us;

                his Holy Spirit waits;

                his blessed angels gather

                around the heav’nly gates.

                No question will be asked us,

                how often we have come;

                although we oft have wandered,

                it is our Father’s home.


4             O all-embracing Mercy,

                O ever-open Door,

                what should we do without you

                when heart and eye run o’er?

                When all things seem against us,

                to drive us to despair,

                we know one gate is open,

                one ear will hear our prayer.


Text: Oswald Allen, 1816-1878, alt.


After all have returned to their places, the congregation stands at the direction of the pastor.


The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.



Post-Communion Prayer                          

Almighty God, you gave your Son both as a sacrifice for sin and a model

of the godly life. Enable us to receive him always with thanksgiving, and

to conform our lives to his; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.



Silence for meditation.




God the Father, who does not despise the broken spirit,

give to you a contrite heart.



God the Son, who bore our sins in his body on the tree,

heal you by his wounds.



God the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth,

speak to you words of pardon and peace.



Almighty God, Father, X Son, and Holy Spirit,

bless you now and forever.




Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

  Thanks be to God.