Showing posts with label ash wednesday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ash wednesday. Show all posts

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.

Ash Wednesday Service - and some Lenten links


It was less than two weeks before the start of Lent and I got a call from our pastor asking if Jeremy and I wanted to plan the upcoming Ash Wednesday service. Our church is Protestant, Nazarene, but much more liturgical than the norm and we observe Lent together as a church.

I thought for a second and said I'd talk to Jeremy but since we had almost two weeks, but I thought it would be okay.

I haven't planned a service in a LONG time. But the initial idea was to give some space for those usually involved in the service (worship band, pastors, leaders, etc.), to make the service simple yet special and hands-on for those kinesthetic and tactile learners. Not to mention, make it accessible for all age groups.

It was a challenge! To say the least, but I followed the course of last year's service with some changes and tweaks. The worship pastor did lead an acapella hymn from her seat and our pastors led the corporate confession and imposition of the ashes (both of which we felt were important for the leaders of the congregation to do), but both our goals of simplicity and giving of breaks was mostly accomplished.

We listened to this song and people sang along. I'd loved it to have it performed, but there just wasn't time.

After explaining the reason for Lent and the symbolism of the ashes, we moved to the four stations meant to help all of us enter in to the season together.

One station was a repentance box: I was so moved by the families who all wrote down a confessions together and those adults who moved away from people to write down what they really wanted to repent from. It was completely sincere.

Another was a station of light: I wanted to emulate a Catholic candle stand and it just so happened that we had a similar one in the Student Center all ready to go. With a reminder to have children ask for help, many candles were lit, for repentance, for another person, to lift a prayer to God. A kneeler was placed to the side for those who wanted to pray, reflect or simply watch the candlelight.

from facebook, thanks, B.B.

The third station was forgiveness, where you could write an offense or name of a person you needed to forgive on a sheet of dissolvable paper and stir it as it disappeared into the basin.

Finally, a station of blessing, to bless your friends, your spouse, or your children by anointing them with oil.

Communion and the ashes were offered in the midst of any station and if anyone was finished (or chose not to participate) they could sit in their seats and quietly reflect on Psalm 103.


We were a different face, so that may've engendered some compliments, but overall I was given the impression that it was really meaningful for people. Even yesterday, several people still were saying thank you and telling us that it was meaningful. For this, I am thankful. I put a ton of time and emotional energy into the service, but really, only the Spirit can speak to His people.


As we've journeyed almost two weeks into Lent 2012, here are some Lenten links I've found if you're interested in reading.

My friend, Jess, has some really great words on Lent this year. Her writing is so incredibly thoughtful and beautiful.

Here is a Lenten article on prayer.

Five Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Easter (especially including children) - I handed these ideas out at church and we have our own Easter tree and repentance box at our house. I hope to use more of the ideas in the future with kiddos.

40 Ideas for Lent (for adults)

Happy Lent! May God use it in your life and ours for a time of change, of reflection and of showing us His love.