She had to go take care of some pre-service stuff, but said the chapel was all prepared if I wanted to go in and pray.
I noticed the altar drapes were white and gold -- oh yeah, it's a high holy day.
Leyalyn and Telynia (Tallessyn's little girls, aged 3 and ... 6?) are beautiful and adorable. Leyalyn had rainbow striped pants, and they both had light-up sneakers and black t-shirts that lit up (High School Musical t-shirts, I suspect).
In attendance were: Tiffany, me, Tallessyn (music director) and her husband and children, Tyler (one of our interns -- and did a bunch of the readings in the service, plus helping with Communion), Michele (one of our lay leaders -- though she wasn't actually helping to lead service tonight), and Trelawney. I forget how sparse attendance is for services other than our usual Sunday evening ones.
Prelude and Silent Meditation
-Verses During the Last Kiss: Funeral of the Dead, Orthodox Liturgy
Call to Worship
One: God of the wilderness, You scatter certainty from our imaginations and callus to feast on fleeting glimpses of your spirit. May we dare to seek you in this place, that our emptiness may be filed with your presence and our longings be satisfied by your mercy.
All: God of mystery and mercy, grant us new life with you as we draw near with yearning hearts during this journey of Lent. Amen.
[Adapted from a call to worship by Mike Holroyd, Living Springs MCC, Bath, England, 2008.]
Opening Hymn: "Come and Find the Quiet Center" (apparently there are a lot of hymns that share a tune with "Sunday's Palms Are Wednesday's Ashes")
One: Come, O Life-Giving Creator and rattle the door latch of our slumbering hearts.
All: Awaken us as you breathe upon a winter wrapped earth, gently calling to life the coming Spring.
One: Awaken in these fortified days of Lenten prayer and discipline our youthful dreams of holiness and justice.
All: Call us forth from the prison camp of our numerous past defeats and our narrow patterns of being to make our ordinary lives extra-ordinarily alive.
One: Show to us during these Lenten days how to take the daily things of life and by submerging them in the sacred, to infuse them with a great love for you and for others.
All: Guide us to perform simple acts of love and prayer, the real works of reform and renewal of this overture to the spring of the Spirit. Help us not waste these precious Lenten days of our souls' spiritual springtime.
[Adapted from a poem by Edward Hays Imaging the Word, Vol. 1 (Pilgrim Press, 1996)]
Tiffany asked the children if they noticed anything different about how she was dressed. (She was wearing a purple stole.) She said that the stole is a symbol of being set apart and she doesn't usually wear a stole, but this is a special day in the life of the church. She asked if they could think of other special days in the life of the church, and Telynia almost immediately said, "Palm Sunday!"
She talked about how back at the very beginning, before anything was formed, when there was just water, God pulled the mud together and formed land, and then God was lonely and said, "Let us make people in our image," and created people, and after we die we are put in the ground and we become dirt again, nourishing the planet.
For "The Service of God's Word," we would have a reading and then the congregation would sing a verse from the insert ("Sunday's Palms are Wednesday's Ashes" and "Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters" -- alt. lyrics).
Sunday's Palms are Wednesday's ashes as we journey into Lent;
Thus we come before our Maker in the blessed Sacrament.
We consider all that's broken, all the challenges we knew;
Help us walk this Lent together, seeking truth and seeking You.
"Yet, even now," says God, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil.
We desire to love our neighbors, their offenses to forgive,
Help us listen to their troubles, and to see the way they live;
Give us vision past our focus on the world's material things;
May the yielding of our spirit be our Lenten offering.
"Psalm 103" by Walker PercyAs the earth around us struggles to keep up with our demands,
Repeat. Do you read? Do you read?
Are you in trouble?
How did you get in trouble?
If you are in trouble, have you sought help?
If you did, did help come?
If it did, did you accept it? Are you out of trouble?
What is the character of consciousness?
Do you have a self?
Do you know who you are?
Do you know what you are doing?
Do you love?
Do you know how to love?
Are you loved? Do you hate?
Do you read me?
Come back. Repeat. Come back. Come back. Come back.
As Creation groans and labors from the hurt of human hands,
Let us gather our resources, and remake the bonds of love,
In the healing ties of kinship, for the Earth and skies above.
2 Corinthians 6:2-3
For God says, "At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you." See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.
We who gather long for nurture; by your milk may we be fed.
Let us join your feast, partaking cup of blessing, living bread.
God, renew us, guide our footsteps; free from sin and all its snares,
One with Christ in living, dying, by your Spirit, children, heirs.
"Come, Come Whoever You Are" by Sufi poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (circa 1200 CE)O how deep your holy wisdom! Unimagined all your ways!
Come, come, whoever you are,
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Our is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
To your name be glory, honor! With our lives we worship, praise!
We your people stand before you, water-washed and Spirit-born.
By your grace, our lives we offer. Recreate us; God, transform!
Invitation to Our Lenten Journey
Our Silent Prayers
Hymn of Prayer: "God, in Your Grace"
Pastoral Prayer and Jesus' Prayer
We lifted up our prayers specifically re: our anticipated Lenten journeys, which I wasn't all that stoked about (I have people I am in prayer for, and I like getting to lift them to the community -- this possibly pinged me particularly because I have gotten used to having Wednesday night Joys&Concerns) but which certainly made sense.
Thanksgiving Over the Ashes
Imposition of Ashes ("Elizabeth, from dust you were created, and to dust you will return.")
Passing of the Peace
Hymn: "Saranam, Saranam" (chorus)
Jesus, Savior Christm lo, to thee I fly:
Saranam, Saranam, Saranam;
Thou the Rock, my refuge that's higher than I:
Saranam, Saranam, Saranam.
Closing Prayer: All this we ask in the name of Jesus: feed us daily, hold us fas, calm our fears and send us forth boldly, joyfully, and ever faithful in your spirit. Amen.
Closing Hymn: "As a Fire Is Meant for Burning"
I chatted with Tallessyn and Michele a bit after the service, and Tallessyn asked if I've always gone to Ash Wednesday service even though it's not really my tradition, and in conversation she said she thinks it's important for people to be able to reject the stuff they grew up with and also for them to be able to reclaim them if they decide that is what they want.