Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service- March 6, 2019, Rev. Paul Werner and Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP


Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community
St. Andrew United Church of Christ

GATHERING SONG (sing three times)
Ash Wednesday Comes and, God, We Hear
by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette


Genesis 2:4b-7 (The Inclusive Bible)                         Rev. Paul Werner

At the time when God made the heavens and the earth, there was still no wild bush on the earth nor had any wild plant sprung up, for God had not yet sent rain to the earth, and there was no human being to till the soil. Instead, a flow of water would well up from the ground and irrigate the soil.

So God fashioned an earth creature out of the clay of the earth, and blew into its nostrils the breath of life. And the earth creature became a living being.

Excerpt from We Are Dust and to Dust We Shall Return
by Dawn Hutchings                                     Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan

On Ash Wednesday, we dare to speak the truth. We speak the truth not in the refreshing light of the morning but in the cold darkness of a winter’s night. We are dust and to dust we shall return. We will die. We are mortal beings and so our lives will end. Our culture has taught us to deny death. Even our funerals have become celebrations of life. But life without the reality of death is lived cheaply, shallowly, in a half-sleep, always pushing away and denying reality. So, on Ash Wednesday let us revel in the knowledge that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Revel in this knowledge because it liberates us!

On Ash Wednesday the reality that we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves is born out in the knowledge that we are stardust, elements of the universe molded together over eons, molded together by a force bigger than we can even begin to imagine, a force we call God, whom we have come to know is Love. Love is breathed into the timeless elements and from the dust our ancestors emerged. Each one of us lives and breathes and has our being as a result of the confluence of so many miracles we shall never be able to count. The Love who is God lives and breathes in, with, through, and beyond us.

PRAYER (in unison)

O God, you are so kind.
We trust you.
Tonight we long for your healing touch.
Tonight we yearn for the clarity of your truth.
We are in awe before you.
There is a quickening within us as we sense your presence.
We are eager to be reconciled to you.
Put a fresh wind in our sails.
Strengthen us for the work of building community.
Infuse us with your forgiving love.
We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Spirit of the Living God (NCH 283)

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me;
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.


Bridget Mary:     When we deny ourselves to get others’ admiration,
All:                      Forgive us, Merciful One.
Paul:                   When we fail to do unto others as we would like them to
                           do unto us,
All:                      Forgive us, Spirit of Love.
Bridget Mary:     When we put our privileged selves first, before the poor
                           and needy and disadvantaged of this world,
All:                      Forgive us, Creator of Truth.
Paul:                   When we keep for ourselves more than what we need,
All:                      Forgive us, Generous God.
Bridget Mary:     Forgive us our sins and trespasses and debts.
All:                      Only then can our souls be washed clean and spotless. Only then can we be your true servants. Amen.

Like a Healing Stream (SPP 73)

MEDITATION (from Psalm 46:10)                  Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan

Settle into your seat, close your eyes, and imagine a place that brings you comfort and peace. Breathe in the goodness of that space. Breathe forth the goodness that is within you.

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
Be still

IMPOSITION OF ASHES                                Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan
 and Rev. Paul Werner

“Remember the remarkable things God does with dust.”



Paul:                   Jesus sets the table where we dine today. Jesus’ welcome extends to all of humanity.
All:                      No matter how old you are, no matter your gender, no matter your culture, no matter whom you love, no matter your ability, no matter your race, no matter your faith journey, all are welcome at this table.
Bridget Mary:     No one can “earn” a place at this meal. Come of your own choice.
All:                      Bring your hopes and your history. Bring your deliberations and your doubts. Bring your cry for liberation. But what is most important is that you come as your whole self.

We Are People on a Journey (NCH 340)

We are people on a journey; pain is with us all the way.
Joyfully we come together at the holy feast of God.

God has sent the invitation to the humble and the poor.
Joyfully we come together at the holy feast of God.

This is bread that God provides us, nourishing our unity.
Joyfully we come together at the holy feast of God.

Christ is ever present with us to unite us all in love.
Joyfully we come together at the holy feast of God.

All who truly thirst for justice seek their liberation here.
Joyfully we come together at the holy feast of God.


Paul:                   O God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus in history—and the gift of Christ in faith. Through him, you breathe life into us. He was moved by his vision of your constant presence in everyone he met, everywhere he went. He revealed you in everything he did in his life well lived. And he showed us, through his example, not only how we should live, but also for what is worth dying.
Bridget Mary:     And when his time on earth had come to an end, Jesus surrendered his life for a value that he deeply believed, lived, and taught—his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, providing a personal example of this insight for the understanding of people in ages to come, he opened wide his arms on a cross and died. Then the Spirit, one stronger than death, raised Jesus to live, showing everyone that life is eternal and that love is immortal. Jesus is with us—and lives in us—today as he will through the end of time.
All:                      O God, let your Spirit of life, healing, and wholeness come upon these gifts—this simple wheat and fruit of the vine. May your Spirit make them holy so that they will become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our brother.
Bridget Mary:     We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share his final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to them saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat it. We are one body, the presence of God in the world. Do this in memory of me.”
Paul:                   In the same way, Jesus took a cup of the fruit of the vine. He said the blessing and gave it to his friends saying, “Take this, all of you, and drink it. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. Do this in memory of me.”
Bridget Mary:     As we gather around this banquet table, we recall God’s blessing and love from ages past and we celebrate and share these gifts in friendship, kinship, and peace.
Paul:                   These are the gifts of God for the people of God. Come, for all things are made ready.


All are welcome at God’s Table. No one is turned away.

We receive communion by the ancient rite of intinction. Please come forward by the center aisle and return by the side aisles. Take a piece of bread, dip it in the chalice, and receive both elements in kind. As is our custom, the chalice contains grape juice rather than wine, so all can participate in this wonderful meal.


In gratitude, in deep gratitude
for this moment,
this meal,
these people,
we give ourselves to you.
Take us out to live as changed people
because we have shared the Living Bread
and cannot remain the same.
Ask much of us,
expect much from us,
enable much by us,
encourage many through us.
So, God, may we live to your glory,
both as inhabitants of earth
and citizens of heaven.

BLESSING SONG (sing three times)

Go now in peace; go now in peace.
May the love of God surround you
everywhere, everywhere, you may go.

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