An Ash Wednesday Liturgy and Gathering

Opening Words

Recognizing we are made of earth and God’s breath, we gather this evening to confess our human frailty while acknowledging the divine within one another. We lay before God the mistakes and choices we’ve made that separate us from God’s hopes and dreams for humanity.


Divine One,
Your son told us, “that whoever doesn’t enter into the sheep pen through the gate but climbs over the wall is a thief and an outlaw.” (John 10:1 CEB)

Huddling in the sheepfold, the temptations beckon us toward hatred, bigotry, selfishness, greed, woundedness, and war-making. They call to us to climb over the wall with them.

We confess we’ve sometimes allowed separation from you and one another manifest in our lives.

Tonight we will lay down our anger, frustrations, anxiety, grief, greed, and yearning that keeps us from following you. We gather to acknowledge our imperfections and ask for your grace.

Like the sheep, we listen for and recognize your voice of love, embrace. Your tone of insistence that we are all worthy is clear to us. Open our hearts and minds that we see not only the dust from which we are formed, but your breath which animates us.

And you, whisper in our ears, “I am here. I am within you and within your neighbors. Remember and be re-membered.”
This evening as we gather, we confess our mistakes and intentional failures. We repent and turn back to you for you are our God.

Scripture: John 10:1-18 CEB

I assure you that whoever doesn’t enter into the sheep pen through the gate but climbs over the wall is a thief and an outlaw. 2 The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The guard at the gate opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 Whenever he has gathered all of his sheep, he goes before them and they follow him, because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger but will run away because they don’t know the stranger’s voice.” 6 Those who heard Jesus use this analogy didn’t understand what he was saying.

7 So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 When the hired hand sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away. That’s because he isn’t the shepherd; the sheep aren’t really his. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 He’s only a hired hand and the sheep don’t matter to him.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock, with one shepherd.

17 “This is why the Father loves me: I give up my life so that I can take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I give it up because I want to. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it up again. I received this commandment from my Father.”

Hymn: Jesus, Remember Me

Worship Stations
walking the labyrinth
prayer candles
meditation reading
imposition of ashes

God reached down scooped up a handful of earth from the mud and formed you. God looked at you and knew the form needed one more thing. And, then, God took God’s own breath and breathed life into you. You are created in the image of God. Amen.

The Lord’s Table

Come to the Table of Grace, the Table of Forgiveness, the Table of Hope. The Table which leads to a changed world through changed hearts

Words of Institution

Hymn: Eat This Bread

Closing Prayer

Balm in Gilead
Cuando el Pobre

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, Days of the Church, John, John 10, John 10:1-18, New Testament

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

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

Category Search.
%d bloggers like this: