Ash Wednesday Worship

Please join us for Ash Wednesday Worship service today, Wednesday, February 14th at 7 pm in the sanctuary. The focus of the day is: “Listen, God is calling you to life.” This worship service will include Holy Communion and Imposition of Ashes.

Worship Musicians

The musicians for worship can find the service orders and music in the crate on the back pew in the sanctuary for each week of the season of Lent. The musicians will rehearse from 6:15 – 6:45 pm Wednesday evening before worship. All are welcome! Contact the office if you plan to help lead worship.

Overview by Rev. Erika R Uthe

Ash Wednesday is a liturgical feast day of the senses. We feel the weight of ash – so light it floats in the air, and so heavy at times it can seem a burden too great to bear. We see the mark of ash, the cross, and our mortality mirrored on the foreheads of those with whom we share our faith journey. We smell the ash, ground up and placed on our foreheads, sometimes acrid with smoke, sometimes scented with oil and herb. We hear the words, ‘remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,’ and ‘this is my body, given for you.’ We taste the bread and wine, brought forth to nourish us from the very earth to which we will return. It is almost as if this day were created so that there can be no chance of missing the message of the gospel, no chance it could get lost in the cacophony of everything else vying for our attention. Fully immersed with all five of our God-given senses, the voice of God rings out loud and clear: you, earth creature, are loved in this life and beyond.

This is important because the cacophony is endless and its promises, while attractive, do not lead to the life that really is life. These promises, which are spoken and perpetuated by forces that go against God and God’s love, will tell you that if you are facing affliction, hardship, calamity, sleepless nights, hunger, or anything other than pleasant, you must be doing something wrong and it is up to you to fix it. These promises tell you that there is a recipe you must follow to do, look, and be enough. These promises lead you ever further away from the God who in Christ Jesus has reconciled the whole world, and in the end, cannot give the life they promised anyway. Yet these promises have allure, and we often find ourselves seeking after the life we hope they give, often at the expense of our own relationships, the world around us, and which forsake our baptismal identity.

It is no wonder it takes all five senses to be jolted into remembering: remember you are dust, and to dust you will return. No amount of chasing after false promises will change this, and rather than facing the brokenness and Ash Wednesday Listen, God is calling you to life Verses Overview 3 mortality of the world in which we live, we cling to the cross and the life it gives. This is the beauty of the cross – it is simultaneously the sign of life and death, brokenness and wholeness, despair and hope all wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

It is the cross which reminds us that we can be ‘treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown and yet are well known; as dying, and see – we are live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.’ (2 Corinthians 6.8b-10) Bearing this very cross on our own heads, a sign of the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism, and as a reminder every day of our life, we remember that to enter into the life God intends does not come with stipulations or caveats. This life, given through the gift of God’s grace and reconciliation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is yours.

The real work, I think, is not entering into the life God offers, but rejecting the life the world offers. It is remembering that with God, death means life. Because that, my friends, is really hard work. I think it is the reason we hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 6 every year at the start of Lent. The spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving serve as a grounding in these promises, not as an act of obligation, but as an act of repentance: of acknowledging that God’s promises are not always the impetus of our actions and our lives are not fully lived in love of God and love of neighbor, of acknowledging that we would rather flee from death and difficult things, preferring an easier way. These practices ground us (no pun intended) in the reality that life is fleeting, and that we will all become earth again, but that death is nothing to fear and in Christ has become the way to life. These practices help us welcome this death and resurrection in big and small ways, reminding us that there is always hope, always life, and always love. This isn’t just about our final, earthy death when we celebrate the completion of our baptismal promises, but it is about each and every day and the decisions we make individually and communally. It is about letting go, about not being in control, about giving up – in order to gain. Living centered in these Lenten practices, we are more able to hear God’s voice: You are my beloved. You are enough. I am with you. Together we will bring my love to the world. It’s ok to let go.

Tomorrow the mark of ash as a visible sign will be gone, yet the promise as it has always been there, remains. These 40 days you are invited to join with us in listening for God’s voice and to forsake everything but the life to which God has called you. See? Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.


On Ash Wednesday we begin our forty-day journey toward Easter with a day of fasting and repentance. Marking our foreheads with dust, we acknowledge that we die and return to the earth. At the same time, the dust traces the life-giving cross indelibly marked on our foreheads at baptism. While we journey through Lent to return to God, we have already been reconciled to God through Christ. We humbly pray for God to make our hearts clean while we rejoice that “now is the day of salvation.” Returning to our baptismal call, we more intentionally bear the fruits of mercy and justice in the world.

Scripture Introductions

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Because of the coming day of the Lord, the prophet Joel calls the people to a community lament. The repentant community declares that God is gracious and asks God to spare the people lest the nations doubt God’s power to save.

Psalm 51:1-17

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love. (Ps. 51:1)

2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10

The ministry of the gospel endures many challenges and hardships. Through this ministry, God’s reconciling activity in the death of Christ reaches into the depths of our lives to bring us into a right relationship with God. In this way, God accepts us into the reality of divine salvation.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commends almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, but emphasizes that spiritual devotion must not be done for show.