Ash Wednesday "Experiential" Service


I lead my church's Ash Wed service several weeks ago and am just now getting this post up - it's still Lent and I'm allowing myself to type this online even though I'm just having one session a day. Just in case anyone is looking for resources to plan an experiential Ash Wednesday service, I am sharing the ones I've found and the worship order plan I used. 

My pastor said I could just repeat last year's service but I'm not really into doing the same exact thing two year in a row. Much of it was similar, but this year I focused on the concept of emptying space in our busy lives in order for God to fill us. See explanation further. 

Sample Worship Order - Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013
(Christ Community Church of the Nazarene 

On screen before service starts: “Remember, you are dust.” 

Welcome & Prayer 

“Recycled Orchestra” Video 

Explanation of Ashes 

Explanation of Lent 
(Here is a snippet of what I shared.) 

I think it’s interesting that New Year’s and Lent are coinciding for me this year. I’m a small goal person, so I like to take challenges in little steps. For the last few New Years I’ve taken some time to revisit the year before by answering a few questions like what the best thing was that happened in the previous year, the most challenging thing, what were the best books I read, in what ways did you grow, etc. One of the last questions that asked, “What was the single biggest time waster in your life in the past year?” I thought about it, wrote down my answer then a little bit later looked back at my answer from the year before that (2011). It was exactly the same thing.


(My biggest time waster? Spending time online looking at blogs and DIYs and creative ideas and checking my email and checking my email and checking my email...)

It was rather eye opening to realize that I’ve been wasting my time the exact same way for two years.
If you haven’t decided a way to fast or empty yourself for Lent this year, I’d encourage you to think about that question: “what is the single biggest time waster in my life?” Is it electronics? Texting? Complaining? Cooking? Eating? Multitasking? TV? Movies? Shopping? The list is endless and let me clarify, lots of these things aren’t necessarily bad or sinful – although for some they are. However, they can reach a point where they consume you and too much of your life. I can find myself spending too much time online – time that could be spent in other ways. So during Lent I’ve decided to limit myself in that area.
So, think about it. What is the biggest time waster in your life? Could you move that aside and make some time for God for a season? During Lent, I encourage all of us to be deliberate about setting time aside for Him and not filling those empty spaces with our busy activity. Allow God to fill the emptiness, that space in your life for Lent.

“Emptying to Fill” (read by 6 different women) 
Now let us prepare for a journey of the heart. Let us be open to the grace that enables our growth. With gratitude and wonder, we receive Christ’s Love in our minds and hearts and souls. If you are able, I invite you to kneel and silently pray. As you do, listen to the gracious words of our Savior Jesus Christ:
(Matt. 11:28, 29; John 6:35, 37; Matt. 5:6)
Come to me, all you that are weary
and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
No one who comes to me will I cast out.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Silent Prayer

SONG:  My Jesus, I Love Thee (vs 1, 2, 1) 

OT Lesson: Psalm 51:1-17 
The Word of the Lord 
Thanks be to God.

Gospel Lesson: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Praise to you, Lord Christ.
Explanation of Stations 
We encourage everyone to participate, however no one is forced to participate. If they choose not to, they can remain in their seats and just watch/reflect.

(About 20 minutes with music playing in background.)
The four stations included:

1) a station of emptying where we filled a small votive with sand and emptied it as a symbol of emptying something out of our lives this season

2) Then there is a station where the light of Christ can fill your votives - your newly empty places.  

(Between those two there is a box that can be used to write what you are taking away or adding to your life for the season – as a tangible act.) 

3) There is also a station of forgiveness where you write a word on a piece of paper and stir it into the basin and watch as it dissolves.

4) A blessing station with oil to bless your children, your spouse, your friends. Also communion included if anyone wants to serve each other.

Each station includes more in depth explanations (a scripture, reflection and action), and we encourage everyone to take time to reflect on them. 

Ashes: At any time after the pastors have returned to the center, we are invited to receive communion and the imposition of the ashes on our foreheads.

Music Video to reconvene: “You Make Beautiful Things”
Litany of Pardon and Renewal

May we empty ourselves this season and allow the light of Christ fill those empty places.
May God, who has forgiven and fed us, now make us strong for these days ahead.
May Jesus lead us, and we be found faithful to follow.
May the Spirit drive us into the wilderness, burning away the chaff of our lives, and purifying our hearts for all to see and be blessed.
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us and remain with us always! 
Please go quietly and in peace, to love God and serve others.

**To find more links, visit my Ash Wednesday post from last year.

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