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Ash Wednesday Service

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. We gather to begin our Lenten fast of 40 days.
Sundays are not counted as part of those forty days. The term fast refers not specifically to
food, but rather to any activity or busyness of mind and heart setting up a barrier to our
realization of God’s spirit working In us. Thus it includes not simply what we “give up for
Lent,” but rather what we take on and open ourselves to, opening ourselves to see Coral
growing among us.
The ashes offered are signs of our mortality and thus of our giving up of the barriers, our
control impulses we erect to protect the fortress-like fences defending our identity, and its
self-importance. Those who wish the ashes will be invited forward for their imposition.

The clergy enter in silence and then begin the service with the Collect for Ash Wednesday.


Presider:   Let us pray. 

Presider and people:   Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.



Reader:   A Reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah [58:1-12]

Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.


Reader:   Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

People:   Thanks be to God.


Psalm 103 

1 Bless the Holy One, O my soul, * and all that is within me, bless God’s holy Name. 


2 Bless the Holy One, O my soul, * and forget not all the gifts of God. 


3 O God, you forgive all our sins * and you heal all our infirmities; 


4 You redeem our life from the grave * and crown us with mercy and loving-kindness; 


5 You satisfy us with good things, * and our youth is renewed like an eagle’s. 

6 O God, you execute righteousness * and judgment for all who are oppressed. 


7 You made your ways known to Moses * and your works to the children of Israel. 


8 You are full of compassion and mercy, * slow to anger and of great kindness. 


9 You will not always accuse us, * nor will you keep your anger for ever. 


10 You have not dealt with us according to our sins, * nor rewarded us according to our wickedness. 


11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, * so is your mercy great upon those who fear you. 


12 As far as the east is from the west, * so far have you removed our sins from us. 


13 As a parent cares for a child, * so do you care for those who fear you. 


14 For you yourself know whereof we are made; * you remember that we are but dust. 


15 Our days are like the grass; * we flourish like a flower of the field; 


16 When the wind goes over it, it is gone, * and its place shall know it no more. 


17 But your merciful goodness endures for ever on those who fear you, * and your righteousness on children’s children; 


18 On those who keep your covenant * and remember your commandments and do them. 


19 You have set your throne in heaven, * and you have dominion over all. 


20 Bless God, all you angels,  you mighty ones who do God’s bidding, * and hearken to the voice of God’s word. 


21 Sing praise, all you heavenly hosts, * you ministers who do God’s will. 


22 Bless God, all creation,  in all places of God’s dominion; * bless the Holy One, O my soul.


Reader:   A Reading from Paul’s Second letter to the Church in Corinth [5:20b—6:10]

We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 

Reader:   The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew [6:1-6, 16-21]

People:   Glory to you, Lord Christ.


Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The Sermon       Rev. Bruce L. MacDuffie

After the Sermon, all stand, and the Celebrant or Minister appointed invites the people to the observance of a holy Lent, saying 

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

Silence is then kept for a time, all kneeling

Blessing of the Ashes                                                                                                                                                                 

Celebrant:   Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.


Imposition of the Ashes

Celebrant:   Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Psalm 51   Recited by all

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; * in your great compassion blot out my offenses. 

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness * and cleanse me from my sin. 

3 For I know my transgressions, * and my sin is ever before me. 

4 Against you only have I sinned * and done what is evil in your sight. 

5 And so you are justified when you speak * and upright in your judgment. 

6 Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth, * a sinner from my mother’s womb. 

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me, * and will make me understand wisdom secretly. 

8 Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; * wash me, and I shall be clean indeed. 

9 Make me hear of joy and gladness, * that the body you have broken may rejoice. 

10 Hide your face from my sins, * and blot out all my iniquities. 

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God, * and renew a right spirit within me. 

12 Cast me not away from your presence, * and take not your holy Spirit from me. 

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again, * and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit. 

14 I shall teach your ways to the wicked, * and sinners shall return to you. 

15 Deliver me from death, O God, * and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness, O God of my salvation. 

16 Open my lips, O God, * and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. 

17 Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice, * but you take no delight in burnt-offerings. 

18 The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; * a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 

The Litany of Penitence

The Celebrant and People:  together, all kneeling 

Most holy and merciful Father: We confess to you and to one another, and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed; by what we have done, and by  what we have left undone. 

Celebrant and others read the petitions

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven. 

People:   Have mercy on us, Lord. 


We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.

People:   Have mercy on us, Lord.


We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives, 

People:   We confess to you, Lord. 


Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, 

People:   We confess to you, Lord. 


Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves, 

People:   We confess to you, Lord. 


Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work, 

People:   We confess to you, Lord. 


Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us, 

People:   We confess to you, Lord. 


Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, 

People:   Accept our repentance, Lord. 


For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, 

People:   Accept our repentance, Lord. 


For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, 

People:   Accept our repentance, Lord. 


Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us; 

People:   Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great. 


Accomplish in us the work of your salvation, 

People:   That we may show forth your glory in the world.


By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord, 

People:   Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Celebrant:   Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desires not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live, has given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and  remission of their sins. He pardons and absolves all those who truly repent, and with sincere hearts believe his holy Gospel. 

Therefore we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Peace

Presider:   The peace of the Lord be always with you.

People:   And also with you.

Offertory Hymn 475   (The Hymnal 1982)

Eucharistic Prayer     

Presider:   God be with you. 

People:   And also with you.

Presider:   Lift up your hearts. 

People:   We lift them to the Lord. 

Presider:   Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People:   It is right to give our thanks and praise. 

Presider:   It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Almighty

                 God, Creator of heaven and earth. 

Presider:   You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast;

                  that fervent in prayer and in works of mercy, and renewed by your Word and Sacraments, they

                  may come to the fullness of grace which you have prepared for those who love you. Therefore

                  we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of

                  heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

The people stand or kneel.

Celebrant:   Holy and gracious God: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all. He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.


On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”


After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.” 


Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Celebrant and People: 

     Christ has died. 

     Christ is risen. 

     Christ will come again.


Celebrant:   We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, Almighty God, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in Christ. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Savior. By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and forever. AMEN.


Celebrant:   And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say

Presider and People:   Our Father, who art in heaven,  hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come,  thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,  as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.



Breaking of the Bread and Invitation to communion

Presider:   Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.

People:   Therefore let us keep the feast.

The Communion  

This is the table, not of the Church but of Jesus Christ. It is made ready for those who love God and who want to love God more. So come, you who have much faith and you who have little, you who have been here often and you who have not been for a long time or ever before, you who have tried to follow and you who have failed. It is Christ who invites you to be known and fed here.  All are welcome to receive communion.  Gluten-free bread is available.  Inform the priest if you prefer this option. The communion wine contains alcohol.  If you prefer a blessing, cross your arms across your chest.

Post-Communion Prayer  

Presider:   Let us Pray

Presider and people:

God of abundance, you have fed us with the bread of life and cup of salvation; you have united us with Christ and one another; and you have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth.  Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue for ever in the risen life of Christ our Savior.


Closing Hymn 149    (The Hymnal 1982)

The Blessing on Ash Wednesday

Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Christ our Savior. 



Presider:   Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People:   Thanks be to God.

Wednesdays at St. Luke’s

Every Wednesday during Lent the Eucharist will be celebrated at St. Luke’s at 5:30 PM, a service lasting about thirty minutes.  The service will be celebrated in Willard Hall until the warmer weather returns.

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