A NEW ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE
PRELUDE: Gregorian Chants
Cover Quote: Lent
Lent is not a negation. It is an affirmation of life’ positive values, its treasures.
Lent is not doing without, but it is doing with. It is taking a greater interest in things that have been crowded out in the hurry and worry of every day. It is a time when a church (or a spiritual community) may prove its value as a well, a mine, or a source and as a center dedicated to the enrichment and empowerment of the Spirit among us.
Robert Murray Pratt
READINGS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH & AN INCLUSIVE LECTIONARY:
OLD TESTAMENT: Psalms 103 Isa. 58
EPISTLES/LETTERS Romans 5:1-5; 14:2-4; 6-8; 10 2 Cor 4: 7-12; 16-18
SYNOPTIC GOSPELS: Matt 6: 1-6; 16-21; 25-34 and/or Luke 6
GNOSTIC WRITINGS: Thomas 70
GLORIOUS KORAN: 7: 199; 24:22
THE HADITH (selected writings of the prophet Mohammed)
SUFI SAINT JAHALUDIN RUMI: There is a Field; Forgive Me
MUSIC ( optional) Bells or Bowls…. Or a Quiet Guitar or Flute Music…
PASTORAL GUIDED MEDITATION: The Jewel and The Ashes
Pastoral Prayer (optional)
SILENT MEDITATION( Chants…)
Homily ( optional if needed or desired… On Becoming A Phoenix… website)
ANTIPHONY (a shared congregational reading that accompanies the Rite of Ash Wednesday; It is a Sacred Rite in four parts: Intention, Releasing, Anointing, Affirming….)
STATEMENT OF INTENTION:
Left Side or Congregation:
The past is behind us. Let us learn from it, and let it go …
The Right Side or Clergy:
The future in Spirit and in self are one. It lies within and ahead of us. Let us
prepare ourselves for it. But we will not try to live in the future,
not strive at too fast a pace; “Now is the time of our salvation.”
Life cannot be led or lived in hindsight; nor can it be truly experienced in anticipation- only in the NOW of it, which is Holy time.
We shall put the failures and embarrassments of yesterday behind us. They will no longer rule us. We can forget them.
We will put tomorrow hopes in us, and in front of us.
Seeking the precious core of our true being, we intend to live
more graciously and compassionately each day.
For ours is the ability to reflect the Divine, and
it can only happen from the lessons learned and
Experiences we have reconciled or redeemed.
We learn from what we leave behind, from what
we HAD to experience, and from the present things…
what “we suffer to be so now.”
(Clergy now invites people to participate in the ritual by asking each person
to write a brief description of a past, painful memory on a small paper card.)
As supplies are handed out, the clergy person reminds the participants that
this is a sacred ritual, to be kept in confidence and with non-judgment.
INVITATION TO THE FLAME:
Clergy: Let us seek to redeem the pain of the years, from the burning of the past, we cleanse and free ourselves to reclaim our higher selves. As dross is burned to reveal the gold, as coal becomes the diamond, we can recognize the jewels of wisdom, compassion, truth, and trust within ourselves…
( as guided by the clergy, each person, with their card, comes up and addresses the group, sharing what they had written. Then they light the card from the chalice, and drop the burning card into a large bowl.)
Clergy: Let the pangs of any negativity transform themselves through the fire and the flame separating the gold from the dross in our lives. We do this so that the ashes of our past can become transmuted to become our visible symbol of renewed grace, as a sign that we posses more of a life that is taught by wisdom, and renewed by hope.
Silence until all the cards have burned to ash . . .
ACT OF ANOINTING: (Ashes mixed with ash of palms, and holy oil…)
Clergy: With these ashes, your past has been released and transformed. No longer are you a prisoner of memory and pain, bondage or regret, you can be free of your karmic debts. No longer dust, you are closer to becoming diamonds.
(Clergy now applies ashes to the forehead of each person)
Traditionally: Man, thou are dust and to dust you shall return….
NEW: You are the dust of the earth that through grace, wisdom, and love, are lways living in transforming grace… And by compassion, honesty, wisdom and forgiveness, you are becoming who you are more fully, more clearly… You are becoming clear light, closer to diamonds…
LEFT SIDE OR CONGREGATION
With this act, the days of our lives become released,
less heavy. Now I am renewed, freed to become more of my true self.
Right Side or the Clergy:
By this act, the future can be received more openly, freely. The newness and
potential of life can be better known.
Be thankful, for this is Holy time, because we are best known by God by how we live our lives, how we savor and serve throughout our days.
Be humble, and thankful, for we will grow with the promise of these ashes, so that
every day can become more clear, radiant, and shining with love.
We have learned from our past; We can be grateful for it.
I recognize its purpose in me and for me: it has been my dust, my grist
and my ground for building within me, a wise heart, and more spiritual life.
[ In this shall you rejoice, that more precious than gold are your tests by fire, and the outcome of your faith, hope, and love shall be the salvation of your souls]” I Peter 7; 9; adapted