February 17, 2021 - Ash Wednesday Service

February 17th, 2021 Ash Wednesday Service 7pm.

 

Jennifer Parks-Snyder is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Ash Wednesday ZOOM/Facebook Live Worship

Time: Feb 17, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting.  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88968658416?pwd=eWhNWTJMV05ZbzFreEZWQ00wTkRGZz09

            Meeting ID: 889 6865 8416               Passcode: 913643

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For audio only:              +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

 

Call to Worship:

Blow the trumpet in Zion. Sound the alarm on God’s holy mountain!

      The day of the Lord draws near –a day of darkness and gloom.

Yet even now, who knows if God will relent, and turn our calamity into joy.

Let us rend our hearts, not our clothing, and return to the Lord, who abounds in steadfast love.

Let us forsake the ways that lead to death and return to God with all our hearts!

      Have mercy on us, O God, and save us from our iniquities.   

 

Opening Song: I Am Thine O Lord by Donna Farver

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/i-am-thine-o-lord

1 I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, and it told Thy love to me.

But I long to rise in the arms of faith and be closer drawn to Thee.

 

Refrain: Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,   To the cross where Thou hast died.

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,     To Thy precious, bleeding side.

 

2 Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, by the power of grace divine.

Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, and my will be lost in Thine. Refrain:

 

3 O the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend,

When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend! Refrain:

 

4 There are depths of love that I yet may know ere Thee face to face I see.

There are heights of joy that I yet may reach ere I rest in peace with Thee. Refrain:

 

Opening Prayer                                                                      

            God of dust and ash, You fashioned us from the dust of the earth, and to dust we shall return.  May the ashes placed upon our foreheads this day remind us of who we are, and whose we are.  Draw us back to You, O God, for You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.  Heal the hardness of our hearts, that we may be faithful disciples of the One who makes all things new.  Amen.

 

First Lesson                                                                       Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

2 Priests blow the trumpets in Zion. Give a warning on my holy mountain. Let everyone who lives in the land tremble with fear. The day of the Lord is coming. It is very near.
2 That day will be dark and sad. It will be black and cloudy.

 

 

12 The Lord announces to his people, “Return to me with all your heart. There is still time.
Do not eat any food. Weep and mourn.”

13 Don’t just tear your clothes to show how sad you are. Let your hearts be broken.
Return to the Lord your God. He is gracious. He is tender and kind. He is slow to get angry.
He is full of love.
He won’t bring his judgment. He won’t destroy you.
14 Who knows? He might turn toward you and not bring his judgment.
He might even give you his blessing.
Then you can bring grain offerings and drink offerings to the Lord your God.

15 Priests, blow the trumpets in Zion. Announce a holy fast. Tell the people not to eat anything.
Gather them together for a special service. 16 Bring them together. Set all of them apart to me.
Bring together the elders. Gather the children and the babies who are still nursing.
Let the groom leave his bedroom. Let the bride leave their marriage bed.
17 Let the priests who serve the Lord weep. Let them cry between the temple porch and the altar.
Let them say, “Lord, spare your people. Don’t let others make fun of them. Don’t let the nations laugh at them. Don’t let them tease your people and say, ‘Where is their God?’ ”

Pastor:  This is the word of the Lord.

Response: Thanks be to God.

 

Time with the Children                                                  Pastor Jenn

It's our children's time and I want to start with a question I ask you each and every week: Who are you? Children Respond: Special Gifts of God!

PJ: That's right, you are special gifts of God each and every day and I'm so lucky to spend time with you!

Today marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the season of spiritual training. If you have ever played on a team before, you know training is where you work on getting better at your sport or dance or acting, if you are in a play. We use that training time to get better with our skills.

 

Lent reminds us to do the same. To get better at our skills of following Jesus. So some people take this time to read the Bible more often. Or to help others or give to others, as Jesus did. Each one of us is invited to figure out how we can train ourselves to get better at being a follower of Jesus. And the best part is, Jesus is ready to help us do that too. He promises to be with us, in our hearts, and when we sense Him there, He helps us in all those ways we work to be better followers.

 

Tonight, you being at this service, is a great way to start this season, and welcome Jesus in your heart, to lead you and help you in the days and weeks to come.

 

Let us pray: Thank You God, for this season of training. And thank You God, for Jesus who lives in our hearts. Amen.

 

Psalter – Page 785 – Hymnal                                    Psalm 51:1-17

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

4Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

5Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

9Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

11Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

14Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

16For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.

17The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

 

Second Lesson                                                            2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6As we work together with him; we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For 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! 3We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,4but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

                        Pastor:       This is the word of the Lord.

                        Response: Thanks be to God.

 

Song of Preparation: Come as You Are by the LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/come-as-you-are-1

Come out of sadness from wherever you've been. Come broken hearted Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy Oh sinner come kneel.

Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal. Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal.

 

Refrain:

So, lay down your burdens Lay down your shame.  All who are broken Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home You're not too far So lay down your hurt Lay down your heart
Come as you are.

 

There's hope for the hopeless and all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table Come taste the grace. There's rest for the weary Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't cure    Refrain.

 

Fall in his arms Come as you are. There's joy for the morning Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal.  Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal   Refrain.

 

Gospel Lesson:                                                Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

Concerning Almsgiving

6 “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.

Concerning Prayer

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.

Concerning Fasting

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.[a]

Concerning Treasures

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

Pastor:  This is the Gospel of our Lord.

                        Response: Thanks be to God.

 

Sermon: Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down by Pastor Jenn

There’s an old children’s rhyme that is played as a game called Ring Around the Rosie, most of you probably recall it. The children join hands and circle around singing, and I invite you to say it along with me:

Ring around the Rosie. Pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

And the last child to fall down is the one who goes in the middle, becoming the Rosie.

            It was always one of my favorites growing up until I discovered the meaning behind that tale. Did you know that it dates back to the time of the Bubonic Plague? Children would play it to cope with the dismal situation they found themselves in. That they, along with all their loved ones, were all ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and there was a good possibility they would die from this disease. Morbid when you think about it, but it was their reality, so this coping strategy probably helped some of them through difficult times.

            In our scripture lessons tonight, we hear the stories of people who are facing dismal times. In Joel, the Israelites are dealing with a locust plague that has troubled the people and their living situations. In the Psalter David writes this poem after facing the reality of his sin committed against God, Bathsheba, and Uriah. In 2 Corinthians Paul is trying to encourage the Corinth churches despite the brutality and persecutions they are facing for their beliefs.

            And the response to each of those difficulties, is the same, the coping advice given is to turn to God. Joel speaks out saying, turn to God, for God will help those suffering, because God is gracious and merciful. David knows to turn to God, as God will cleanse David of his sins because God has mercy and steadfast love. And Paul reassures the Corinthians as they turn to God, though they are dying, they are alive; though they are punished, they are not killed; though they are sorrowful, yet they are always rejoicing; and even though they have nothing, yet they possess everything. All 3 of these texts, written from different ages and different locations, describe various difficult times, yet the coping advice is all the same, turn to God and God will help.

            What I find so interesting is, you and I face and deal with difficulties not unlike those mentioned in our texts tonight. We may not have locusts devouring our land, but we have a pandemic and economic crisis eating away at our country, our jobs, our lives. We may not face horrendous persecution like the Corinth church did during Paul’s time, but there are powers at work against us. And who among us here has not committed a sin against God or another that we do not need the mercy and grace of our God to forgive us- I mean that’s why we are gathered here on Ash Wednesday.

            So how are we to cope? I suggest we follow the advice of the writers of these Scripture texts and turn to God. Turn to God who gives us a treasure to fill our hearts.

            In our gospel lesson Jesus tells us about a treasure that will not rust or fade away, and the treasure he wants us to hold onto in our heart is what he gives us from God: The joy of salvation. The joy of knowing God personally and intimately. The joy of knowing God’s love for each of us that leads us to love and care for others with justice and mercy. But in order to receive that good treasure, we need to make sure that we empty our hearts of those things that keep us separate from that gift of God: like our self- centeredness, our hypocrisy, our anger, our doubts, and our fears.

            Because when our hearts are filled with those things, we can’t sense Jesus; we can’t sense the Spirit moving among us; we can’t sense the healing presence of an almighty God. No, our hearts need to be cleansed to receive those divine blessings.

            When my son, Alex, was younger, he was my spiritual child. He was always asking questions, searching for answers in regards to this faith. One time, I remember him coming to me and telling me that Jesus lives in his heart and he was so happy to have Jesus there.

            Then he went around the rest of that day telling me what Jesus in his heart thought of: like if Jesus in his heart liked the weather that day or not; Or if Jesus in his heart enjoyed the food we were eating; Or if Jesus in his heart approved of how his siblings were treating him.

            At one point he and I got into a whip cream battle and I got him good on his face, so he said, “Jesus in my heart says that not nice” I said, “No I think Jesus is laughing in your heart right now” He laughed then too.

            But, later that same night, I remember Alex asking me, “Will Jesus ever leave my heart?” I told him no, Jesus never leaves your heart. I said, sometimes we forget that Jesus is there, because we let other things get in the way like our fears, our anger, our pain. I said but Jesus never leaves us. I remember Alex saying he liked that answer, he said that made him feel good. And I know that through the years and the various challenges Alex faced, that understanding helped him cope with various difficulties that came his way.

            Tonight, as we begin the season of Lent, we gather to confess our sins, confess all those things that separate us from God, like our fears, our anger, our self-centeredness, our doubts, and our pains, we do that in order that we may turn to God and let Jesus cleanse and fill our hearts. Fill our hearts with grace and mercy.  Fill our hearts with steadfast love. So that though we are ashes, and to ashes we will return, we won’t fall down, rather we will rise to a joyful reconciliation with the Divine. 

            Let us pray: Dear God, during this season of Lent, help us draw nearer to You, to be cleansed, to be changed, to seek Your face, Your presence through the treasure of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Invitation to Observance of Lenten Discipline

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:  The early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty–day season of spiritual preparation.

 

During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism.

It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness and restored to participation in the life of the Church.

 

In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.

 

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self–examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self–denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word.

 

Tonight, we will receive the mark of the ashes and be reminded of the sacrifice and commitment we are about to make for the journey. May God forgive us for our fears and hesitancy. May the Lord heal our spirits and enable us to enter into this time of learning and testing with courage and trust.

 

Prayer of Confession

            Holy God wash us thoroughly of our iniquity and cleanse us from our sin.  For our transgressions are ever before us, and we have done what is evil in Your sight.  You desire truth in our inward being, yet we turn our back on the wisdom You would impart in our hearts.  Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within us.  Do not cast us away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from us.  Forgive our sins, and lead us in Your paths anew, that we might teach transgressors Your ways and lead sinners to return to You.  Amen.

 

Silent Prayer of Personal Confession

 

Words of Assurance: With great mercy, God relents from punishing and calls us into fullness of life. In God’s grace, know that you are forgiven. In God’s mercy, know that you are made new. In God’s love, know that you are made whole. Amen.

 

Thanksgiving over the Ashes Almighty God, You have created us out of the dust of the earth. Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, so that we may remember that only by Your gracious gift are we given everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

 

Imposition of AshesRepent from your sins and turn to God through Jesus.”

 

The Lord’s Prayer

            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.  Amen.

 

Closing Song: Victory in Jesus by Donna Farver & Linda Creasy

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/victory-in-jesus-1

 

I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory;

How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood's atoning. Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

 

Refrain:

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me 'ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him.

He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

 

I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing
How He made the lame to walk again and 'caused the blind to see
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit"
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory Refrain.

 

Sending Forth:

With the ash of repentance, we have entered Lent. With contrite hearts, we await our Lord. Go forth and make preparations to receive the grace of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 
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