Ash Wednesday 2021

In News by Kim Eiffert


Ash Wednesday
February 17, 2021
On this Ash Wednesday, we are experiencing yet another unprecedented event in the life of our church. We are unable to safely gather in person and with rolling black outs and loss of power we can not confidently offer a live stream option for worship.

We invite you to set aside time alone or with your family to observe this Ash Wednesday in your home. In the spirit of the day, as we begin this journey toward Easter, join with us in this worship experience with a prayerful heart.

We look toward Easter resurrection, but today we seek the wisdom in the ashes.

Download a PDF of the service at the link or find the text below.  


Download PDF of Worship Guide HERE

Ash Wednesday 2021 in your homes in the midst of the Winter Storm
We encourage you to light a candle to begin your time of devotion and worship.

Call to Worship (adapted by Laurie Hanson Roberts)

There is a wisdom in ash, that we need so much, but seldom hear.
It’s the wisdom of grief, that reminds us of our mortality,
and that Life is more than this dust can contain.

It’s the wisdom of confession, that brings our darkness out of hiding,
and opens the windows to Light.

It’s the wisdom of repentance, that stops us in our tracks,
and charts the way to Love.

There’s a wisdom in ash, and we welcome it, Lord,
thankful for the renewing gifts it brings.

Kyrie Eleison  (adapted by Laurie Hanson Roberts)

 Holy God, hear our prayers for all that lies uneasily in our hearts.
Help us to admit that we are broken by fear and hate, apathy and greed,
broken by sorrow and anxiety.

Lord have mercy.

God, we are lost and cannot find our way home. The path we’re on seems unfamiliar.
We have wandered from our true self. We cannot see where you are leading us,
if you are leading us.

Lord have mercy.

There is just so much, and we are anxious about it all.
Infuse your peace and serenity into our hearts.

Lord have mercy.

Release us from the prisons that limit our full expressions of love and faith.
Remind us that you claim us and the world every day,
 good, beloved and redeemed. Amen.

 A Devotional for Ash Wednesday in the Midst of the Storm
By Rev. Billy Echols-Richter
How I long for the dirt; the ground, the earth.  Like many who have lived in this part of the world for awhile, I like the idea of snow.  I like the occasional brief occurrence of snow.  I like a “snow day”, but I have learned again this week that I am not made for the snow or of the snow. The snow is actually a charade.  It covers our basic reality.  The lingering of the snow is accompanied by frigid wind and bitter cold.  It frosts our souls and reminds us we are not made for this kind of cover up.  We are people of the dirt; the ground; the earth.

Then there are the “rolling blackouts”.  What kind of existence is this? Never knowing when the power may be on or when the power may go off.  It also seems to be coupled with an amazing amount of inequity.  Some this week have not lost electric power at all.  Others have had it for a scant few hours.  Still others have experienced it turn off and on unpredictably as many as 15 times a day.  Modern conveniences apparently lead to modern dependency.  And that is a dependency on the artificial.  As wonderful as manufactured heat and electric light may seem, it is not the essence of who we are.  Too often my life is lived like a rolling blackout.  My energy and passion often turn on and off without warning.  Instead, I desire in my soul that which is real and not artificial.  I desire a life that is not affected and controlled like a thermostat or the flip of a switch.

Ash Wednesday invites us to consider our origin.  Who are we when we are not covered by the deposit of the storm?  Who are we when we are not victims of the artificial?  Genesis 2 reminds us with these words:

“In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”  (Genesis 2:4b-7)

Ash Wednesday invites us to a revealing and authentic encounter with God.  It is a day to melt away that which we have covered up for too long. It is a day to repent and release the things we know are artificial about our lives.  It is the beginning of a season of renewal where we trust God to create something amazing out of our most basic essence.

If we really lean into this journey, it begins with a great deal of anxiety and trepidation.  Confession and repentance are awkward and frightening. But as Jan Richardson writes so beautifully in our Ash Wednesday litany:

Did you not know what The Holy One can do with dust?”

We will long remember the Ash Wednesday of 2021 when the virus, the weather and the power outage pushed us beyond our ability to congregate and impose ashes.  It however does not limit the power of God to reveal a new season in our lives.  We are in God’s hands. We are the product of God’s breath (Spirit).  “We are dust and to dust we shall return”.  AMEN

We invite you to name the artificial things that too often control your life.  Think about the things that you are spending energy trying to cover up.  What are things you need to release into the Trustworthy presence of God? 

Find some dust or some dirt that you can rub between your fingers.  Maybe it is buried beneath the snow.  Maybe it is behind some books on a bookshelf.  Maybe it is in a potted plant offering fertile soil.   As you hold this in your hand feeling it on your fingertips, offer this blessing written by Jan Richardson.

 Blessing of the Dust….
“All those days you felt like dust, like dirt,
as if all you had to do was turn your face toward the wind
and be scattered to the four corners or swept away by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?

This is the day we freely say we are scorched.
This is the hour we are marked by what has made it through the burning.
This is the moment we ask for the blessing
that lives within the ancient ashes,
that makes its home inside the soil of this sacred earth.

All those days you felt like dust, like dirt,
as if all you had to do was turn your face
toward the wind and be scattered to the four corners or swept away by the smallest breath as insubstantial—

did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?

This is the day we freely say we are scorched.
This is the hour we are marked by what has made it through the burning.
This is the moment we ask for the blessing
that lives within the ancient ashes,
that makes its home inside the soil of this sacred earth.

So let us be marked not for sorrow.
And let us be marked not for shame.
Let us be marked not for false humility
or for thinking we are less than we are

but for claiming what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world is made
and the stars that blaze in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral inside the smudge we bear.”

Now use the dust, the dirt you hold to make the sign of the cross on your hand, arm or forehead celebrating and claiming all that God can do with dust.

Benediction (by Jan Richardson)
Go forth in Christ’s name, to transform existence, to bring consolation
to the desperate, hope to the hungry and homeless, reconciliation to
a community and world divided. And in Christ’s name, find a cause you 
can live for, a self you can live with, and a Redeemer for whom you
can die. Go in peace. Amen.