Imposition of Ashes
Leader: In our Scriptures, we read that our spiritual ancestors would sometimes cover themselves in ashes as a public demonstration of their penance – an outward expression of their repentance for having sinned. Many Christians continue that practice on Ash Wednesday. Having confessed our sins before God and one another, those who wish may now come forward and receive the mark of these ashes as a sign of your repentance and total dependence upon God.
All are welcome to come forward to receive ashes at this time – either on your forehead or the back of your hand.
Litany of Confession (Psalm 51)
Leader: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken heart – one filled with regret and remorse – God will not despise. We are a broken people. Trusting in God’s mending ways, let us confess our sins before God and one another: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
People: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Leader: Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
People: Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Leader: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
People: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Assurance of Pardon (Psalm 51)
Leader: O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.
People: The Lord creates in us clean hearts; God puts new and right spirits within us.
We are not cast away from the presence of the Holy One, and the Holy Spirit is not taken from us.
In Christ, we are restored to the joy of God’s salvation; and by God’s grace, our spirits are remade to follow God’s will. Thanks be to God!