17 February 2010

Ash Wednesday

A beautiful liturgy tonight. Samwise preached the Good News to us. Together as a community in Christ and part of the wider Christian family we entered upon the Holy Fast. I love the opening litany at this liturgy, but especially these petitions:

To prosper the preaching of Your Word;
to bless our prayer and meditation;
to strengthen and preserve us in the true faith;
and to give heart to our sorrow and strength to our repentance:
We implore You to hear us, good Lord!

To draw all to Yourself;
to bless those who are instructed in the faith;
to watch over and console the poor, the sick, the distressed, the lonely, the forsaken, the abandoned, and all who stand in need of our prayers;
to give abundant blessing to all works of mercy;
and to have mercy on us all:
We implore You to hear us, good Lord!

To turn our hearts to You;
To turn the hearts of our enemies, persecutors and slanderers;
and gracious to hear our prayers:
We implore You to hear us, good Lord!

As the people streamed to the altar and I put the ashes on the heads of little children and old men, middle aged women and teenagers, the words remained the same: Remember, O man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return. But the ashes are place on in the shape of a cross - we are indeed dying, but we die in hope of Him who became dust and ashes for us and who raised that dust to a resurrection life that will never end and of which He even now grants us a share.

On my heart imprint Your image,
Blessed Jesus, King of grace,
That life's riches, cares and pleasures
Never may Your work erase.
Let the clear inscription be:
Jesus, crucified for me
Is my life, my hope's foundation,
And my glory and salvation.

7 comments:

Becky said...

I looked for Luther's Sermon for Ash Wednesday in the House Postils, but I didn't find one. Am I missing some church history about why he would have skipped it?

Myrtle said...

Tonight was my first Ash Wednesday. What an incredible gift our fathers gave us in the heritage of the Lutheran Confession and its liturgies!

I did not know that I would get to pray the litany with an entire congregation of brothers and sisters in Christ, having only prayed this privately with one or two before tonight. Oh, how I savored doing so!

Beforehand, I was talking with a new friend, telling her that I wished we could be together tonight. She surprised me by telling me that we would be. We were already together in the death and resurrection we shared with Christ in our baptism. We would together again as we each took in His body and blood because closed communion actually means close communion, close with those who share in the Lutheran confession.

Call me silly, but though we were miles apart, I felt as if she was standing there with me at the rail. Sort of like the joy of fellowship I find in knowing I am not alone in reveling in the Living Word each day via the Treasury of Daily Prayer.

William Weedon said...

Becky,

Lutherans didn't tend to observe it in the 16th century; that's why there's no homily for it. In 17th century Lutheran Magdeburg, the Joel reading was done on the Tuesday Eucharist (with the Introit for Ash Wednesday) and the Thursday Eucharist had the first part of the Matthew reading. So the day was sort of divided in half between those two regularly scheduled Eucharists in that city.

Myrtle,

Exactly! Together, as one body, even when separated by miles. What a comfort and joy!

Pr. Lehmann said...

Samwise preached...

You need to say MORE, my friend!

You preached at Saint John's last night, and did a good job of it.

Mark said...

I like the wording of the hymn verse at the end. "Clear inscription" clicks with me better than "superscription."

William Weedon said...

I still muddle up the hymn verse. Old habits die hard. :)

Pr. Lehmann, that would not be Gamgee but Powell - our fourth year field worker.

Pr. Lehmann said...

That's too bad. I would have loved to hear what Samwise Gamgee had to say about fasting.