An Ash Wednesday Liturgy


*Call to Worship                                                                              

For just such a time as this,
we were made.

In the image of God,
loving, grace-giving, and wise,
we are created to be the hands,
hearts, and feet of divinity.

We gather on this Ash Wednesday,
   not because we must,
      not to puff ourselves up,
   but to start out on the trail
      leading to the resurrection. 

We commit to learning
   to live faithfully,
      embracing the royal divinity
           within each of us.

Song Break Our Hearts Again (Paul Demer)

Sacred Words Esther 1:10-12

Words of Humble Confession Please pray together.

We confess to you, O God, that we
   too often claim to see the special
      in others only to use them for
          our own purposes. 

We have used others for our own
   glory and at their expense. 

 Forgive us for the ways we
   dehumanize friends, strangers,
       and whole groups of people. 

Remind us that black lives matter
    as much as our own. Move us to
      affirm those who love in ways
          different than us. 

Open our hearts to the immigrant,
     helping us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Release us from the bondage of
   possessions while teaching us to
      share your abundance with all. 

In the name of Queen Vashti who
   refused to participate in systems
       of oppression. Amen.

Words of Hope & Assurance

God has a dream for humanity, a dream for each of us. The One who remains with us even when we fail to perceive that presence, loves and lures us toward being the people we were created to become. For the sake of Vashti and for the sake of you and I, God does not give up.

Response: Jesus, Remember Me


Sacred Words Luke 18:15-17

Words of Humble Confession Please pray together.

We confess we have propped
   ourselves up,
       letting pride claim special
           status for ourselves at the
               expense of  our neighbors. 

You’ve told us that the vulnerable,
   those as powerless as children,
      are the greatest in your
         unfolding realm, in heaven. 

Still we justify the sins
    of our culture
   as somehow Christian. 

Release us from our prideful
   pursuit of the standards
        of this world. 

Open our hearts and eyes
   that we can see you in the
         weak and powerless. 

In the name of the little child on Jesus’ lap we pray. Amen. 

Words of Hope & Assurance                                      

The divine who resides in each of us and each one of our neighbors, loves you and knows you. God forgives us for our pridefulness that separates us from one another. Just as that love will refuse death on the cross as the final answer, that love oozes into the spaces between us moving us to become the people God dreams we can be.

Response: Jesus, Remember Me

Sacred Words Matthew 18:6-9

Words of Humble Confession Please pray together.

We confess we sin
   individually against others,
      we confess we repeat our
    even though we know better. 

We allow our actions to make it
     harder for others to reach you. 

Release us from our flawed ideas
   and the desires that trip us up
       causing our fall into sin. 

Move us closer to you and
   away from that which tempts us. 

We confess we are also a part
    of the world’s systems of sin. 

We are all twisted up in that
    which we barely understand. 

We claim our success is of our own
  doing and anyone can do as we,
      even as our kindred struggle in
          poverty or other injustices
              that we never face. 

Release us from our ignorance and
    arrogance so that we can live in
         your beloved community. 

In the name of those with whom we
    are connected yet do not know. Amen.        

Words of Hope & Assurance                                      

Though you and I are imperfect, we are loved. Though we hurt one another, you and I are embraced. In our human frailties, we are God’s object of extravagant love. Be assured that despite what we can change and what we see no way to change, God never forgets us, ever beckoning us toward hope and the beloved community.

Response: Jesus, Remember Me

Time of Silent Confession

Words of Hope & Assurance                                                         

We begin our annual pilgrimage to Easter this evening. Mindful that events in our lives and around us and beyond us may be oppressive, even though we may feel hopeless, the divine One never forgets us. The expansive love of the creating One will refuse death on the cross at Easter. Likewise God refuses the way things are as the way they must be. Confessing our sins, open your heart to the unfolding realm of God that began two millennia ago when the women found an empty tomb.

Imposition of Ashes 

Created from dust, we are held together by extravagant love. Turn away from sin, live faithfully, embracing the royal divinity within yourself and others.

After receiving ashes, if you desire to receive reiki please move to one of the stations at the edges of the sanctuary. After reiki, please return to your seat.


Move within us, sacred One,
heal our sinfulness,
reveal through our actions
your salvific powers.
We yearn for your
    creating &  healing. 

Remind us during this season of Lent
that you do not give up on us.
Use us in your unfolding creation.

We crave hope in our hopelessness!
We crave your palpable presence!

 Just as your endless love and justice
overcomes death on the cross,
we know you journey with us in just such a time as this.

Assurance of Pardon (from UCC Book of Worship)

Almighty God does not desire the
death of sinners,
but rather that they may turn from
their wickedness and live.

Therefore we implore God to grant us
true repentance and the Holy Spirit
that those things which we do
this day may be pleasing to God,
that the rest of our lives may be
lived faithfully,
and that at the last we may come to

God’s eternal joy;
through Jesus the Christ.
Thanks be to God!

*Closing Hymn Ours the Journey #458

*Benediction Please pray together.

Created from dust,
  held together by God’s
       extravagant love,
          we turn away from sin,
    and leave today
         embracing God’s love.


Tim is a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, a father of two adult children, and their spouses, and a grandfather of four perfect children. A former early childhood educator, Tim is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He has served as pastor of both Disciples and United Church of Christ congregations. As we enter what we hope is the final phase of the pandemic, Tim is beginning a journey of rediscovering himself and discerning next steps. He writes from his home in Albany, Oregon and wherever the Spirit lures him.

Posted in Ash Wednesday, Lent, Liturgy, Seasons of the Church, Uncategorized

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All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

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