Audio and Text are available below for the Ash Wednesday Service

February 20 2021


Prelude

Welcome and Announcements

Imposition of Ashes

Opening Hymn

Corporate Confession and Absolution

Salutation and Collect of the Day

Psalm

Reading

Epistle

Holy Gospel

Creed

Hymn of the Day

Sermon

Prayer of the Church

Preface - Proper Preface - Sanctus

The Words of Our Lord

Fraction - Agnus Dei

Music During Communion Distribution

Dismissal - Nunc Dimittis

Thanksgiving - Benediction

Closing Htmn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prelude

Welcome and Announcements

Imposition of Ashes
P     Dear brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day the Church begins a holy season of prayerful and penitential reflection.  Our attention is especially directed to the holy sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

       From ancient times the season of Lent has been kept as a time of special devotion, self-denial and humble repentance born of a faithful heart that dwells confidently on His Word and draws from it life and hope.

       Let us pray that our dear Father in heaven, for the sake of His beloved Son and in the power of His Holy Spirit, might richly bless this Lententide for us so that we may come to Easter with glad hearts and keep the feast in sincerity and truth.

P     O Lord,
C     have mercy.
P     O Christ,
C     have mercy.
P     O Lord,
C     have mercy.
P     O Christ,
C     hear us.
P     God the Father in heaven,
C     have mercy.
P     God the Redeemer of the world,
C     have mercy.
P     God the Holy Spirit,
C     have mercy.
P     Be gracious to us.
C     Spare us, good Lord.
P     Be gracious to us.
C     Help us, good Lord.
P     By the mystery of Your holy incarnation; by Your holy nativity; by Your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by Your agony and bloody sweat; by Your cross and passion; by Your precious death and burial; by Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter:
C     Help us, good Lord.
P     In all time of tribulation; in all time of prosperity; in the hour of death; and in the day of judgment:
C     Help us, good Lord.
P     We poor sinners implore You
C     to hear us, O Lord.
P     To prosper the teaching of Your Word; to bless our prayer and meditation; to strengthen and preserve us in the true faith; and to give heart to our sorrow and strength to our repentance:
C     We implore You to hear us, good Lord
P     To draw all to Yourself; to bless those who are instructed in the faith; to watch over and console the poor, the sick, the distressed, the lonely, the forsaken, the abandoned, and all who stand in need of our prayer; to give abundant blessing to all works of mercy; and to have mercy on us all:
C     We implore You to hear us, good Lord
P     To turn our hearts to You; to turn the hearts of our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers; and graciously to hear our prayers::
C     We implore You to hear us, good Lord
P     Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
C     We implore You to hear us.
P     Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,
C     have mercy.
P     Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,
C     have mercy.
P     Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,
C     grant us Your peace.
P     O Christ,
C     hear us.
P     O Lord,
C     have mercy.
P     O Christ,
C     have mercy.
P     O Lord,
C     have mercy.  Amen
P     O God, You desire not the death of sinners, but rather that they turn from their wickedness and live.  We implore You to have compassion on the frailty of our mortal nature, for we acknowledge that we are dust and to dust we shall return.  Mercifully pardon our sins that we may obtain the promises You have laid up for those who are repentant; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
C     Amen

Sit

The pastor and assistants receive ashes first, followed by the congregation.  Using the right thumb, the pastor places the ashes on the forehead of each person in the sign of the cross, saying:

P   Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

After receiving the ashes, each person returns to his place in silence. There is no statement of dismissal.

Stand


 

419 Savior, When in Dust to Thee                                             LSB 419
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Text and tune: Public domain


 

CORPORATE CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism.

Invocation
P     In the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

Silence for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination.

Confession of Sins                                                                    LSB 184
P     Beloved in the Lord, it is our intention to receive the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which He strengthens our faith by giving us His body to eat and His blood to drink.  Therefore, it is proper that we diligently examine ourselves, as St. Paul urges us to do, for this holy Sacrament has been instituted for the special comfort of those who are troubled because of their sin and who humbly confess their sins, fear God’s wrath, and hunger and thirst for righteousness.

But when we examine our hearts and consciences, we find nothing in us but sin and death from which we are incapable of delivering ourselves.  Therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us.  For our benefit He became man so that He might fulfill for us the whole will and law of God and, to deliver us, took upon Himself our sin and the punishment we deserve.

So that we may more confidently believe this and be strengthened in the faith and in holy living, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said, “Take, eat, this is My body, which is given for you.”  It is as if He said, “I became man, and all that I do and suffer is for your good.  As a pledge of this, I give you My body to eat.”

In the same way also He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  Again, it is as if He said, “I have had mercy on you by taking into Myself all your iniquities.  I give Myself into death, shedding My blood to obtain grace and forgiveness of sins, and to comfort and establish the new testament, which gives forgiveness and everlasting salvation.  As a pledge of this, I give you My blood to drink.”

Therefore, whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup, confidently believing this Word and promise of Christ dwells in Christ and Christ in him and has eternal life. 

We should also do this in remembrance of Him, showing His death – that He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification.  Giving Him our most heartfelt thanks, we take up our cross and follow Him and, according to His commandment, love one another as He has loved us.  For we are all one bread and one body, even as we are all partakers of this one bread and drink from the one cup.  For just as the one cup is filled with wine of many grapes and one bread made from countless grains, so also we being many, are one body in Christ.  Because of Him, we love one another, not only in word, but in deed and in truth. 

May the almighty and merciful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, accomplish this in us.

C     Amen

P     Having heard the Word of God, let us confess our sins to Him, imploring Him for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

Stand

C     O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.

P     God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith.
C     Amen
P     Do you believe that the forgiveness I speak is not my forgiveness but God’s?
C     Yes
P     Let is be done for you as you believe.  In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen
P     Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.  Go in peace. 
C     Amen

SERVICE OF THE WORD

Salutation and Collect of the Day
P     The Lord be with you.
C     And with thy spirit.

P     Let us pray.
Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C     Amen.

Sit

Psalm                                                                               Psalm 51:1–13
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
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 broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.

Old Testament Reading                                                        Joel 2:12–19
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Then the Lord became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
The Lord answered and said to his people,
“Behold, I am sending to you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a reproach among the nations.”

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Epistle                                                                  2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
We implore 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.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Stand

Verse
C       Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Holy Gospel                                                              Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21
P     The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, the sixth chapter.
C     Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

[Jesus said:] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when 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 when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

P     This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C     Praise be to Thee, O Christ.

Nicene Creed
C     I believe in one God,
     the Father Almighty,
     maker of heaven and earth
          and of all things visible and invisible.
 
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
     the only-begotten Son of God,
     begotten of His Father before all worlds,
     God of God, Light of Light,
     very God of very God,
     begotten, not made,
     being of one substance with the Father,
     by whom all things were made;
     who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven
     and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary
     and was made man;
     and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
     He suffered and was buried.
     And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures
          and ascended into heaven
     and sits at the right hand of the Father.
     And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead,
     whose kingdom will have no end.
 
And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the Lord and giver of life,
     who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
     who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
     who spoke by the prophets.
     And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church,
     I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,
     and I look for the resurrection of the dead
     and the life T of the world to come. Amen.
Sit

456 Were You There                                                        LSB 456 sts. 1–3
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Tune and text: Public domain

Sermon

Votum
P     The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
C     Amen.

 

Stand

Prayer of the Church
(each petition ends with the following response) P Lord, in your mercy,    C Hear our prayer.

SERVICE OF THE SACRAMENT

Preface                                                                                    LSB 194
P     The Lord be with you.
C     And with thy spirit.

P     Lift up your hearts.
C     We lift them up unto the Lord.

P     Let us give thanks unto the Lord, our God.
C     It is meet and right so to do.

Proper Preface
P     It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who overcame the assaults of the devil and gave His life as a ransom for many that with cleansed hearts we might be prepared joyfully to celebrate the paschal feast in sincerity and truth. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

Sanctus                                                                                    LSB 195
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Lord’s Prayer                                                                           LSB 162
P     Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray:
C     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;
     and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
     and the power and the glory
     forever and ever. Amen.

The Words of Our Lord
P     Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My T body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My T blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Fraction
P:  This is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Happy are they who are called to His feast.

C:  O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I will be healed.  Amen. 

Agnus Dei                                                                                LSB 198
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Sit

Distribution
199
The true body of Christ, given for you.
Amen.

The true blood of Christ, shed for you.
Amen.

Stand

The Dismissal                                                                           LSB 199
P     The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart T in peace.
C     Amen.

 

Nunc Dimittis                                                                           LSB 199
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Thanksgiving                                                                            LSB 200
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Post-Communion Prayer
P:  Almighty God, you gave your Son both as a sacrifice for sin and a model of the godly life.  Enable us to receive him always with thanksgiving and to conform our lives to his; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. 

C:  Amen

Salutation                                                                                LSB 201
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Benedicamus                                                                            LSB 202
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Benediction                                                                             LSB 202
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418 O Lord, throughout These Forty Days                                 LSB 418
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Tune: Public domain
Text: © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110004199

All leave in silence


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday   February 17, 2021   Matt. 6:1-6, 16-20   Trinity, Wellsville
Good Deeds Done in Secret
I guess I have always craved some degree of attention and recognition.  You too?  All people do.  We all want to be appreciated for our efforts and rewarded for our accomplishments.  I recall an incident from my elementary school years.  In our physical Education Class, we called it “Gym” back then, I was absent the day the teacher picked the “squad leaders” for the year, which were kind of like team captains.  I wanted to be a squad leader so badly.  The next time I was in Gym, I tried every way I could to get the teacher's attention, to prove to her that I was far and away better qualified to be a squad leader than the people she had picked.  It did not work; all I succeeded at was getting on her nerves.
There was another incident in my college years that was a bit different but strikes me as relevant to the theme of today's gospel reading.  I pulled into a parking spot at a shopping center and I noticed that in the next spot there was a young woman, just a few years older than I was then, pacing nervously around her car.  I asked her if she needed help and she said, “Yes.”  Her husband had just had surgery and she was at the pharmacy getting his prescription filled.  She accidentally locked her keys in her car – with her infant daughter in the back seat.  It was not an especially hot day, so the child was in no immediate danger.  Still, the mother was distraught with fear and at a total loss as to what to do.  In those days there were no cell phones and road-side assistance was rare.
I got a coat hanger from the dry cleaner in the shopping center, but neither of us could jimmy the lock open.  She found a pay phone and called her husband.  He was too sick and in too much pain to come get her, so we decided I would drive to her house while she waited with the baby.  I'd get the spare car key from her husband, and then drive it back to her.  It took some time, but it worked.  The car door was opened, and the baby was unharmed.  Before she drove off, she tried to hand me a fist full of dollar bills – and they weren't one-dollar bills either.  But I said, “No thank you,” and she drove off.
Now I'm not telling you that story to show you what a great guy I am, because I'm really not, and I'll tell you why.  At that point, the only people who knew what had happened were the woman, her husband, me and God.  But strangely, my good deed gnawed at me.  I felt like I just had to tell someone what I had done or burst.  I needed someone to affirm my altruism.  I needed to be recognized for my good work. 
That night, when I was hanging out with some friends, I told them about the woman, the car and the baby.  They affirmed that I had “done good.”  But no sooner were the words out of my mouth than I knew that somehow I had cheapened the whole experience by talking about it.  In holding up the event for the world to see, I had lost the solitary sacredness of a work of mercy known but to God.   Even now as I tell the story, I feel awkward. Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Or, as someone once explained it, “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” 
Jesus knows how our craving for attention and recognition even spills over into our spiritual lives.  Jesus knows how much we crave validation and how that can corrupt even our best actions.  Jesus would never tell us not to do good works, our neighbors need them, but he challenges us to do them for the right reason – and self-promotion is never the right reason.
What Jesus says has some rather unpopular consequences, if we take him seriously, and we should take him very seriously.  Consider Jesus' admonition to give to the needy in secret.  Today, recognizing donors is part of the science of fund raising.  Many big charities publish reports listing their contributors and the amount of their donations.  The biggest givers get their names in large bold print and get assigned fancy titles such as “Member of the CEO's Inner Circle.”  That's might be effective development strategy, but if one is getting so much attention for their gift, is it really a gift anymore?  Is it truly sacrificial if one is getting praise and publicity in return?  
Which brings us to Jesus saying to pray in secret.  It's not my place to judge, but I cannot help but wonder if some of the people who say long, elaborate prayers in public, like in restaurants, are doing it for show or if they really mean it.  Not that impressing me has anything to do with it, but I'm more impressed by people who simply bow their heads, close their eyes and say a brief prayer silently.  That strikes me as more genuine and as a better Christian witness.  That lack of ostentatiousness is also proper in worship.  As we have said before, worship leaders should not draw attention to themselves.  The term worship comes from an Old English “worth ship,” word meaning to ascribe worth.  Everything we do in worship should draw attention to Christ, and ascribe worth to him, not ourselves. 
I would hope that you would never leave worship saying, “Isn't Pastor cute and  clever?”  I do hope you leave worship and say, “God spoke to me through the Word today,” or “I experienced Christ present in the sacrament.”  If I tell stories about my youth when I preach, it's not for the sheer joy of storytelling.  It is because I hope to establish common ground with you from where the gospel can be proclaimed and heard.  Have you noticed that in most Lutheran churches the pastors all wear similar white robes called albs in worship?  The purpose is we all want to look somewhat alike to de-emphasize our personal identities to a degree, and to emphasize that we are just nameless, faceless servants that God just happened to call to deliver His message.  It should matter if I wear an Armani suit or sweat pants, but I don’t, in case it does.
I knew a pastor who had a spotlight follow him as he pranced through the chancel during the Divine Service.  God forgive if I’m judging, but that's just wrong in so many ways!  You may have noticed during the announcements on Sunday morning I don't say, “Hi, I'm Pastor Eric Ash and I welcome you to worship.”  I say something like “We welcome you to Trinity Lutheran Church in Christ's name....” because my name is not very important, but Jesus' name is important– one day every knee will bow at its sound. 
Somewhat ironically, today, Ash Wednesday, the day many of us begin some sort of fasting, is the day we hear Jesus say to not look somber or disfigure our faces when we fast, but to wash our faces and put oil on our heads.  And what do we do --  we put ashes on our foreheads for all the world to see!  Again, if we're only doing it for all the world to see us and see that we are better, more religious people than they are, that's wrong.  But if the ashes remind us and others of our sin and mortality, that's a good thing. 
When we can give up our desire to be recognized for everything we do, when we no longer care how the world judges us, then we can hear more clearly and respond more freely to the Word of Christ.  We have no righteousness of our own.  We are covered in the righteousness of Christ that he won dying for us and on that basis alone we are saved.  Lent teaches us to not be so preoccupied with the world's attention because it only bogs us down and strengthens our addiction to other people's validation of our lives.  God is watching; He alone is our judge; He sees in secret; He knows what we do; and that is enough.  Through Christ, we have the Father's unconditional approval, and that is all we really need, now and forever.  Amen.