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Feb 11

Ash Wednesday (Year C)

treasureJoel 2:1-2, 12-17
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • The first several verses of this passage foreshadow the darkness and earthquakes of Good Friday.
  • You could use your sanctuary lighting to help illustrate the text: begin with the lights dimmed, and gradually increase the lighting as you approach the Assurance of Pardon.
  • Will your congregation be “putting away the Alleluias” during Lent?  Describe it as a “fast”, perhaps featuring this passage as you discuss the practice of not saying “Alleluia” during this season.
  • All ages are to be gathered in worship and sanctified.  Be sure to make room for all ages in worship.
  • Several of the readings for this day mention a trumpet.  You may want to include a trumpet or two in your worship display.  Also, if you have any instrumentalists in your congregation, you could invite someone to play a trumpet during worship.
Isaiah 58:1-12
  • You could use things like a bullhorn or loud speakers in your worship display to help illustrate the words “shout out”, “announce”, and “lift up your voice”.
  • This text issues us a wake up call: are we doing what God is calling us to do?  How do we treat people (especially people in service professions)?
  • We are called to fast from things like oppression, injustice, poverty, and discord.  Write down all of the many things that you and your congregation can/will fast from during Lent (and beyond), and burn the paper during worship (using a burning bowl or other safe method).  Use the ashes to draw crosses or other religious symbols on a large canvas that you will display in your worship space during Lent.
  • While we don’t usually think of lush gardens and fresh springs of water on Ash Wednesday, they all are included in this passage.  Use green plants and water fountains in your worship display to illustrate the last few verses of this text.
  • The conclusion of this passage speaks of ancient ruins being rebuilt, foundations being raised, and breaches being repaired.  Create and interactive worship display by scattering large building blocks (perhaps large cardboard “bricks” that are available at most toy stores) throughout the worship space.  Invite the congregation to gather the bricks and build something during worship.  A suggestion for what to build: the communion table.
Psalm 51:1-17
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • What comes to mind when you read the words “teach me wisdom in my secret heart”?
  • Set up “Secret Heart Prayer Partners” for Lent: Invite worshippers to write their names on paper hearts.  Mix all of the paper hearts together in a bowl, and have everyone draw a name.  Have the people pray for the person whose name they selected, send secret notes of encouragement, etc, all throughout the season of Lent.  On Easter Sunday, you could invite those participating to reveal their identities.
  • Use this scripture as the basis for a baptismal remembrance service (or, welcome those who have not yet been baptized to be baptized).  Use hyssop or rosemary sprigs to sprinkle water on the congregation.
  • You could use cleaning products and/or White-Out (typing correction fluid) in your worship display to illustrate the phrases “blot out”, “wash me”, and “cleanse me”.
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • This is such a powerful image: we are called to be the righteousness of God!
  • Paul reminds us that we must not give the grace of God mere lip service.  It is meant to really mean something to us.  To do this, we are called to do more than just accept God’s grace for ourselves; we need to offer that same grace to others, too.
  • What are the “weapons of righteousness”?  Do they do harm to others?  I would dare say that they do not.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • If you are trying to prove yourself to others, then you are most likely making poor choices and missing the point.  When we are truly acting out of love, then there is no desire to “prove oneself”.
  • You may need to censor the pictures a bit, but you could project pictures of churches who protest with signs (in particular, I am thinking of those who “speak for God” by naming those whom they say God “hates”).  Sadly, these are church folks who don’t seem to get it.
  • We don’t need to be known or get any credit at all for what we do in ministry.  If a trumpet is sounded, it is sounded to announce the Lord (not us).
  • Where our treasure is (whatever it is that we truly value), there our heart will be also.  Use treasure chests or other decorative boxes to decorate your worship space.

1 ping

  1. Ash Wednesday (Year A) - The Worship Closet

    […] Have you seen what The Worship Closet has posted in previous years?  Don’t forget to look at the notes on Year B and Year C. […]

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