Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ash Wednesday Liturgy & Songs + Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Wednesday, March 6, 2019 + The First Day of Lent


This evening, Emmaus City Church had the humble privilege of joining with The River Community Church, Fairlawn CRC, and Pleasant Street in Whitinsville, Massachusetts for an Ash Wednesday mass. 

Apart from Christ, our lives are marinated in mess and crumple into darkness and ash. This is the vivid reminder of Ash Wednesday with its imposition of ashes onto our foreheads. With Christ, however, darkness gives way to light and restoration. + St. Peter’s Fireside

Lenten Liturgy of Prayer, Song, Word, Ashes, Spirit, and Life + Ash Wednesday, March 6


Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a season of self-examination, reflection, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. While it is an ancient tradition, it also powerfully speaks to our modern condition because it calls us to engage in renewal. Theologian Robert Webber reminds us:

We too easily forget our Maker and Redeemer, replacing God with things and ambition. Lent is the season that calls us back to God, back to basics, back to the spiritual realities of life. It calls us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons. And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord, the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life. Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year

Greeting

The Lord be with you. And also with you.

Call to Worship
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant. For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. + 
Psalm 25:8-11

I Need Thee Every Hour

Annie Hawks, 1872 A.D.
Written as a 37-year-old wife and mother of three while doing regular household tasks during a summer morning ... "Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master (Jesus) that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind ... 'I Need Thee Every Hour'."

I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine,
Can peace afford.


I need Thee, O I need Thee,
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, Savior,
I come to Thee.


I need Thee every hour,
Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power,
When Thou art nigh.
(Chorus)

I need Thee every hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.
(Chorus)

Invitation to the Observance of the Lenten Discipline
Sisters and brothers in Christ: Every year at Easter we celebrate with joy our redemption and renewal through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent is a time to prepare for this celebration and to make room in our lives for the Spirit of God to renew us in this mystery. We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and our need for the love and forgiveness shown to us in Jesus Christ. I invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ, to observe this season of Lent, by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by practicing works of love, and by reading and reflecting on God's Holy Word.

Silent Reflection

Homily: United with Jesus & Relenting from Life on Our Own

From dust we were made and to dust we return. Apart from Christ, our lives are marinated in mess and crumple into darkness and ash. This is the vivid reminder of Ash Wednesday with its imposition of ashes onto our foreheads. With Christ, however, darkness gives way to light and restoration.

1) Lent is Being United with Jesus in the Desert Spaces + Mark 1:12-15: At once the Spirit sent Jesus out into the wilderness, and He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News!”

+ Alastair Sterne, St. Peter's Fireside: Lent is wilderness space. We enter a barren space to depend on God rather than earthly comforts. But we never do it alone. 

Lent disciples us to take on this dangerous, dusty journey w/ God only by power of the Holy Spirit. 

+ Action: Fast from Desires We Think We Need + Fast from Testing God + Fast from Shortcuts to Control

2) Lent is Being United with Jesus in Fasting for Freeing Others (and Ourselves) + Isaiah 58:6-7: 
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?


+ Alastair Sterne, St. Peter's Fireside: Fasting is not about what we can give up for God or earning His approval or presence. Fasting is about opening ourselves up into the realities of what God has given to us. … The point of giving up something we use with frequency is to have frequent reminders throughout the day of our need to reach out to God (and each other) rather than our phone, or our wallet, or our plates. 
+ Baptist Music Dir. Thomas A. Dorsey, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” 1932 A.D.: Written in response to his inconsolable bereavement at the death of his wife, Nettie Harper, in childbirth, and his infant son in August. + Favorite of MLK, Civil Rights Movement 
Lent disciples us to loosen the chains of sorrows (or selfishness), and selflessly share with others. 
+ Action: Save $ Spent on a Meal to Give to IJM, World Renew, PLC, Lunch w/ Co-Worker

3) Lent is Being United with Jesus in Our Commissioning + Acts 13:1-3: Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.


Lent disciples us to focus on who we already are as God’s people, witnesses sent to neighbors and nations. 
+ Action: Pray at 10:02 a.m. & 10:02 p.m. to become laborer of the harvest in Whitinsville, Douglas, Worcester    

Litany + Prayer: As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. + Matthew 3:16–4:1

We seek to follow you, Jesus. Lead us by your Spirit into a season of preparation and of growing faith. Amen. Most Holy God, be present with us as we begin this journey into Lent. We turn our faces to the cross, just as Jesus did. Lord Jesus Christ, show us again your great compassion, mercy, and love. Take us into your dying and into your resurrection. Holy Spirit of God, we open ourselves to your presence and your voice. Our hearts are open to you. Amen.

Silent Confession


Create in Me a Clean Heart

Anonymous

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Your presence, O Lord,
And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation,
And renew a right spirit within me.

Prayer: Almighty God, You have created us out of the dust of the earth: May these ashes be a sign of our mortality and penitence. Help us always remember that it is only by Your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Imposition of Ashes + Genesis 3:19Romans 6:11
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Thomas A. Dorsey, 1932 A.D.
Written in response to his inconsolable bereavement at the death of his wife, Nettie Harper, in childbirth, and his infant son in August 1932.

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:

Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.


When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord, linger near.
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call.
Hold my hand lest I fall: (Refrain)

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand: 
(Refrain)

Assurance of Pardon

Call: Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we, free from sins, might live for righteousness; by His wounds we have been healed.” Know that you are forgiven, and be at peace (I Peter 2:24)
Response: Thanks be to God!

Concluding Prayer: 
Almighty God, You have created us out of the dust of the earth. May these ashes be a sign of our mortality and penitence and a reminder that only by your gracious gift are we given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Just As I Am

Charlotte Elliott, 1834 A.D.
Written due to suffering from a serious illness that left her disabled for the rest of her life; her lifelong spiritual mentor C├ęsar Malan, a Swiss minister and hymnologist, counseled her to replace her rage and inner conflict with peace, and simple faith in God; from that day on, she turned her literary talents to writing hymns. Although sometimes depressed by her condition, she always felt renewed by the assurance of salvation, and she responded to her Savior in hymns with her “strong imagination and a well cultured and intellectual mind.”

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Benediction
May God the Father, who does not despise the broken spirit, give you a contrite heart. May Christ, who bore our sins in His body on the tree, heal you by His wounds. May the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, speak to you words of pardon and peace. And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Call: Ever mindful of our frailty, and through humble reliance on Christ alone, let us go forth to serve the world as those who love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
Response: Thanks be to God!

To read more about Lent, check out: Bread & Wine | An Introduction to Lent 2019

For more details about how Emmaus City needs Jesus and seeks to join Him in loving Worcester during this season of Lent, here are a few links:

We would love for you to join us in exploring our need for Christ together.

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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