thinking theology

The Work of Reconciliation

A Service for Ash Wednesday

Leader: May the Spirit of Peace come amongst you.
Response: And also with you.

Collect: Creator God, you love the creatures you have made, you bring healing and forgiveness to your people. Create in us new and hopeful hearts. As we acknowledge the brokenness of our world, may we be empowered to initiate repentance and renewal, beginning with ourselves and our communities. We ask this in the name of the Beloved.

Psalm: (using the theme of 103)

Bless the Holy One, O my soul.
Let all that is in me open to the touch
of Love, that makes us whole

Bless the Holy One, O my soul.
And remember that in holiness and goodness,
all has been made.

From the cradle that rocks us,
to the earth that receives us,
we are clothed in mercy and loving kindness.

The Holy One yearns to satisfy us with good things
and to revive the faint of heart and body,
through the agency of our compassion.

The Holy One sees the oppressed and the needy,
and judges those who turn their face from their cry,
calling to all to walk in the way of justice and peace.

Again and again, the Holy One calls to us,
offering hope and possibility
for the rebirth of compassion and reconciliation.

Our lives are like a summer day.
The season turns and it is lost in frost and memory.
And yet, in each life, the seed of transformation is planted.

Made of the dust of stars, we have been endowed
with imagination and possibility.
The horizon is only a step in eternity.

Bless the Holy One, O my soul.
With all the creatures and the earth,
We offer our lives for new vision and transformation.

In Lent, we mark the journey to resurrection with the sign of ashes, a sign of penitence and change. Like the phoenix, it is from death of the old life and its limited perspectives, that we are born into the gift of Pentecost.

Anointing with ashes
Merciful God, from the roots of the earth and the dust of stars, you have created us. May these ashes be for us a sign of transformation, of forgiveness, and blessing.

(People may either come forward to be anointed with ashes, or they may stand in a circle, anointing each other)

The words for marking with ashes:
Remember that you are a part of this holy earth. Remember that in God we are one, in blessing and in brokenness.


Remember that you are part of the darkness of this holy earth, and called to rise in the Light.

Isaiah 61: 1-4
Philippians 4:4-9
Mark 9: 33-37

Reflection: What is the spirit calling for the church to undertake? What must we let die? What do we hope will be reborn?

Closing prayer. Lord’s Prayer.

Words of Dismissal: The mark of ashes must sink beneath our skin, invisible to others, but a fiery brand on our hearts. We go on to other work in the name of the God of Peace, the Source of Love, and the power of Community. Amen.

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