a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Confession: we don’t want to understand

Holy God, we like to claim that your way is mysterious and we are uncertain how to follow. We confess that we don’t want to understand the fast that you choose. You call us to loose the bonds of injustice, to let prisoners free, to break every yoke, to bring the homeless into our house, to feed our neighbours and pray for our enemies. We make it sound like a difficult metaphor so we don’t have to act on your word, because we don’t like to be uncomfortable. Forgive our apathy, our wilful ignorance, our false modesty, and our unexamined privilege. Create in us a clean heart, and lead us into a Holy Lent…and beyond, to abundant life for all your creation. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson

CTW: return to the Lord

Leader: God’s call rings out through the world, God’s message to us.
People: God calls us to come back, to fast and weep, and ask for forgiveness.
Leader: We need to change our entire lives, what is inside of us, not just outside.
People: For our God is loving and compassionate.
Leader: We enter this season of Preparation by returning to the LORD.
All: Together, let us sound the trumpet and worship God!
submitted by Rev. Will Ryan, First Christian Church Burlington IA

CTW for Ash Wednesday

One: This is the season of Lent, a time when we recognize the ways we have moved away from God, a time when we look deeply into our lives and see the ways we have not lived faithfully. Lent is also a time of reorientation and renewal; a time of turning our hearts and minds back to God.
Many: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love

One: God is a God of abundant mercy, who seeks reconciliation with wayward Creation.
Many: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

One: God is a God who constantly reaches out to us, inviting us into love, inviting us into life.

Many: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

One: The sacrifice which is pleasing to God is a contrite heart and a spirit of brokenness; let us turn to God humility and faith.
Many: God, you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Wash away our guilt, heal our brokenness, and draw us ever closer to you.

Submitted by Laura Brekke, Campus Minister at Santa Clara University in California, adapted from Psalm 51

Litany of Penitence: at the threshold of life

One:    God, you are Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.

All:     You formed us from the earth
and breathed life into our bodies.
You walk among us
and offer us your life.
You call us together
and breathe your Spirit through us.

One:    You have made us in your image.

All:     Now remind us that still, we are not God.
For we confess that we have forgotten.

One:    We have forgotten that it is your kingdom, not ours.
We have forgotten to listen for your voice, so often drowned out by our own.
We have forgotten that you call all creation to life and relationship, not rules and regulations.


One:    We pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done”
and yet we confess, O Lord, that we are very attached to our own wills.

All:     We ask your forgiveness for the times we think we have all the answers.
We confess that we have slammed the door, keeping others out,
we have stood in the doorway monitoring who comes and goes,
and sometimes we have barged right through others’ doors,
caring little for the consequences.
Forgive us, O God, and turn us again to your way.
Fill us with your steadfast love, and lead us into life.



One:    You call, O Lord,
sometimes in a storm and sometimes in a silence,
through your word written and proclaimed,
through the voice of stranger and enemy and friend.

All:     I confess that I have not always been an eager student of your word,
I have talked more than I have listened in prayer,
and that I might not recognize your voice in a crowd.
I admit that I have followed other voices,
and that my own voice has often been louder than yours.
I have stood by the door, but not walked through.
I have stood by the door, and kept others from walking through.
I have stood by the door, calling people to walk my way rather than yours.
Forgive me, O God, and turn me again to your way.
Fill me with your steadfast love, and lead me into life.



One:    You, Lord, are Healer, making wholeness where once there was brokenness.
You offer a way of life that carries hope for all the world.

All:     Yet we turn our eyes from a dying creation, ignoring your call to care.
We admit that we choose what is easy,
at the expense of the people and the planet you have created.
We confess that we want the green pastures and still waters for ourselves,
and we have set up systems in which some waste away while we simply waste.
When our doors are unmarked, so only those in the know may enter,
when our hearts are firmly locked against anything new,
when our habits are closed and therefore shut others out,
forgive us, O God, and turn us again to your way.
Fill us with your steadfast love, and lead us into life.



One:    We stand at the threshold
of community
of grief
of hope
of repentance
of possibility
of fear
of forgiveness
of life.


Every day is filled with opportunities both missed and taken—
to speak up, to speak out, to keep silent, to listen…
to hope, to despair, to heal, to hurt, to help…
to come in and to go out and to find pasture.


The Kingdom of God (Taize)

The Turning

One:    Trusting in the gracious mercy of God,
do you turn from the ways of sin and toward God,
who is faithful and just, loving and compassionate?

All:     I turn my mind, my heart, and my life toward God.

One:    Will you seek God with your whole heart,
and follow where God’s Spirit leads?

All:     I will, with God’s help.

One:    Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple,
obeying his Word and showing his love?

All:     I will, with God’s help.


The Kingdom of God (Taize)

One:    Your steadfast love endures forever, O God.

All:     From dust we came,
to dust we will return;
but your steadfast love endures forever.   

One:    We gather in penitence,
we gather in confidence;
we stand at the threshold of life.

All:     Restore us, O God,
open the gate and turn us to follow your path again,
to proclaim your love that endures forever.


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

invocation: God of the cross

God of the Cross, be with us now as we begin again the Lenten journey.
In this time of worship, and in the days ahead,
strip us of our attachments and addictions,
that we might bare our souls to you;
render us deaf and blind to the distractions of want,
that we might hear and see only the demands of the Gospel;
and break through our spiritual blockades,
that we might be assailed by your relentless love.
We pray in the name of the self-giving, self-sacrificing Christ.  Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Daniel Mayes, First Christian Church, Spencer, IA.

two days to Ashes!

Are you looking for Ash Wednesday resources? Look here!

Are you doing something different for Ash Wednesday?

Are you doing Ashes-To-Go? Is there a liturgy that goes with that, or do you just put ashes on anyone who walks by?

What are you singing for Ash Wednesday?

Do you burn the palms for the ashes? If so, do you do it by yourself ahead of time? How and where? (full disclosure: I order mine from Cokesbury…)

Share here so we can all do our last-minute prep and panic together!


And come back later today for the conversation on Lent 1!

CTW: the Messiah we need

We come to Jesus, the author of a new and different way.
We confess that He is not the Messiah we want:
not a CEO, not a General, not a Senator,
not a Genie, not a Fairy Godmother, not Santa Claus.

We come to Jesus, who leads us in the Way of the Cross:
a path we would rather not walk,
for we are uncomfortable with sacrifice,
reluctant to abandon ourselves in self-giving love.

We come to Jesus, who is not the Messiah we want.
We come to Jesus because he is the Messiah we need.

submitted by Rev. Daniel Mayes, First Christian Church, Spencer, IA

ash wednesday: introduction to the imposition of ashes

At the very beginning,
God scooped up the dust of the earth and molded it into human beings,
breathing divine breath into those creatures of dust.
Over time though, we dust creatures have forgotten who we are and whose we are.
We believed a serpent in the Garden of Eden who said we could become like God.
We believed that the gold calf Aaron made could guide us in the wilderness.
We believed the builders of Babel who thought by our own hands we could be greater than God.
We have covered up with leaves and clothes.
We have stopped taking time to walk with God in the gardens of the world God created.

But God does not stop finding ways to meet us.
God spoke through a burning bush, a whisper, a cloud pillar, the laws given to Moses,
and then ultimately through Jesus Christ.
By living a perfect sinless life,
Jesus exposed our lies of self-sufficiency.
Our sinful pride is brought into the light.
Our dusty nature is right there on the surface.

Come forward to reclaim the dust with which you were formed.
Come forward to recognize your need for the God who created you
and for the savior who desires to wash you clean.

Submitted by Kathleen Sheets, Pastoral Intern, First Presbyterian Church, Maumee, OH

ash wednesday call to worship: what seems like an ending

(written for an Ash Wednesday service in a park)

One: What seems like an ending
All: is really a beginning.
One: Secure in our ending
All: we begin.
One: Knowing that we come from dust, we will return to dust and we are forever in the care of Jesus
All: we begin.
One: With hearts that are fickle, with eyes that are woozy
All: we begin.

Submitted by Jodi Houdge, Humble Walk Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN

ash wednesday service: forgive our conditions

This is the service we are using after a Pancake Supper. We are actually using a local cafe (owned and operated by church members) as our dinner space AND our worship space. After the pancake Supper (a mash-up of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in one evening) the gathering music will begin. What follows is what is printed in our bulletin.

GATHERING SONG (Wait for the Lord)

SCRIPTURE READING (Matthew 11:28-30)



One: God of our completeness…
we give thanks for the gift of life.
All: We see the world around us…all you have created…
and, at times, we are in awe of its beauty.

One: God of our wholeness…
we give thanks for the gift of love.
All: We reflect on the life of Jesus…who promises rest…
and, at times, we are ready to follow.

One: God of our entire being…
we give thanks for the gift of sustaining nourishment.
All: We catch glimpses of your Spirit moving among us…
and, at times, we are ready to receive.

One: God…your love is unconditional…
All: Forgive our conditions.

One (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

All (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

One: You created us in your image,
and you long for us to share our life together…
All: But I’m more interested in my own life.
One: You long for us to have compassion for one another…
All: But I’m more interested in my own needs.
One: You long for us to peacefully listen to one another…
All: But I’m more interested in my own opinions.
One: God…your love is unconditional…
All: Forgive our conditions.

One (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

All (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

One: You draw us together,
and call us to be your church…
All: to be your light, shining in the shadows…
to be your salt, seasoning a sapless society.

One: You envision the community we call “church”
to be a reflection of life as you intend for all creation.
All: But we’re more interested in deciding
who’s in and who’s out…
who’s right and who’s wrong…
who’s a Christian and who’s not…
who belongs at our table, and who doesn’t.

One: God…your love is unconditional…
All: Forgive our conditions.

One (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

All (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

One: You see in us a potential that is beyond our imaginations.
All: We see the comfort of the status quo.
One: During this season, you call us to a place of renewal.
All: We know that “renewal” is code for “change”.
One: We don’t like change…
All: most of the time.
One: But deep down, we long for your renewal…
All: we need your renewal…
One: we welcome your renewal…
All: so forgive us…transform us…renew us…

One (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

All (sung): Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.


At this time, you are invited to stand up and walk to one of two people near the middle of the Cafe holding a bowl of ashes, some of which they will place on your forehead or on the back of your hand (if you prefer) in the shape of a cross as a reminder that we were created from dust, and it is to dust that we shall return. Our theme for Lent this year is renewal. You are encouraged to reflect on what experiencing renewal might mean for you.

As the elder places the ashes on your forehead or hand, he/she will say to you:

You are created from dust,
and it is to dust that you shall return
resting peacefully in the grace of God.


This Psalm will be read slowly during the imposition of ashes as we remember who we are and whose we are…as we remember that we are created from dust, and it is to dust that we shall return, resting peacefully in the grace of God.



A member of the church who is an artist is bringing 2 of her paintings…one with a dark theme and one with a light, celebratory theme. The dark painting will be displayed on the table at the beginning of the service. When the 15th verse of the Psalm is read…the dark painting will be replaced by the celebratory painting.

“Wait for the Lord” is a song from “Songs and Prayers for Taize”

Our sung Kyrie response is from “Taize: Songs for Prayer”

Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY) using a mash-up of thoughts from a LiturgyLink Ash Wednesday brainstorming session.