Glitter+Ash Wednesday Liturgy*
ONE: The grace of Jesus be with you.
ALL: And also with you.
ONE: Bless the One who forgives all our sins.
ALL: God's mercy endures forever.
Oh God of all creation, we look around and see heart-breaking beauty in the eyes of children. We see exquisite evil in people who said they would do no harm. We know first hand the contradictions of good and evil in others and ourselves. Today, ashes mark us a people who serve with eyes open to the possibilities of great good and the dangers of great harm. Fill us with wisdom. Amen.
HYMN Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley
Jesus walked this lonesome valley, he had to walk it by himself;
Oh nobody else could walk it for him. He had to walk it by himself.
(We must walk this lonesome valley) (You must go and stand your trial)
SCRIPTURE LESSON (paraphrase)
Therefore, says Yahweh, turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments; turn unto God, for there is no one more gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; repent of all evil right now. 14 Do you know if you will have another chance to repent, and leave a blessing as your legacy? Maybe not even a small food offering unto God? 15 No, make it big! Blow the trumpet, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Joel 2:12-15
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the servitude, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6
HYMN By the Waters of Babylon (canon)
By the waters, the waters of Babylon, we lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion,
we remember, we remember, we remember thee Zion.
GOSPEL LESSON Matthew 6: 16-21
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to God, who is unseen; and God, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Dear people, since the moment of the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of religious minorities by the Romans, early Christians decided there should be season of spiritual preparation before the celebration of Easter where life conquers death in the resurrection of Jesus. If anyone had committed serious sins, they could change their ways and be restored to the community. The congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness in the Gospel of Jesus. You are invited to mark the beginning of 40 days of reflection in Lent: choose the fast of God—to break the bonds of the oppressed. Reflect, be humble, be merciful and act in the light of all that is good. To begin this 40-day fast from injustice we must remember our mortality—and the fragility of life. Be silent before all that is sacred. Be marked by your own willingness to follow what is good, even unto death because love conquers hate. Life conquers death.
THANKSGIVING OVER THE ASHES
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth and added stardust to every breath we take. In the Ashes we are mortal beings who suffer. In the glitter we are immortal souls celebrating life. Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence – our immortality and thirst for justice as did Jesus who was willing to die for us. Amen.
CONFESSION AND INVITATION
ALL: We confess that we are both broken and beautiful. We confess a God of love who gives us the freedom to choose love or evil. Sometimes choose evil and we are deeply sorry. Sometimes in our deepest despair the light of hope breaks through. With these ashes and glitter we receive and announce the forgiveness of God. We believe the light. We believe love.
ONE: All who would be marked with the Ashes of humility and the Glitter of life, come now.
IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Jesus, Remember Me, When you come into your Kin-dom
Jesu, recuerdame, cuando vengas en tu reino
You have been marked with Ashes and Glitter. Say to the world, love is a queer thing, it requires everything and gives everything. We come from dust, we return to dust, and in between, we glitter, shimmer and dance in holy light.
Let us go forth, both marked and freed to serve our neighbor, to loose the bonds of injustice, and to shine as if our lives depended on it—because they do!
Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me, over me.
And, before I’ll be slave, I’ll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.
*Liturgy by Rev. Ann Craig, Parity Board Member and MCC Communications Consultant