February 22, 2023 – Ash Wednesday

Lectionary Readings   -   Gathering   -  Word  -   Eucharist   -   Sending   -   Music and Art

Lectionary Readings

Joel 2:1–2, 12–17
The day of the Lord is coming; return to God with all your heart.

or Isaiah 58:1–12
The fast God chooses: do justice, release captives, help the poor.

Psalm 51:1–17
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new spirit within me.

2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
Be reconciled to God in Christ; now is the day of salvation!

Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21
Don’t flaunt your fasting and prayer; store up treasure in heaven.

— Gathering —

Opening Sentences

With fasting, weeping, and mourning,
we return to God.
With honesty and humility,
we acknowledge our humanity.
In accord and in silence,
we offer our prayers. 

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Thanksgiving For Baptism

At the baptismal font:
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
O Lord our God, we give you thanks
for the mercy you so freely offer us
through the grace of our baptism—
safe passage through the sea,
justice rolling down like water,
deliverance from sin and death forever.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
poured out upon us in baptism,
teach us to love and serve you faithfully
and reconcile us to you and to one another
as members of one, living body;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confession and Pardon​

At the baptismal font:
Now is the time.
Now is the day of salvation.
Now is the beginning of a season of deep breaths,
deep reflection, and deep reckoning.
We must not accept God’s grace in vain.
Now is the time for confession.

Have mercy on us, O God.
We know the ways we have sinned against you.
We know the ways we have done evil.
We know the ways we are guilty.
We deserve your judgment, and yet we plead:
do not cast us away from your presence.
Do not take your Holy Spirit from us.
Create in us clean hearts.
Hide your face from our sins
and blot out the evil we have done.
Let us hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Lifting water from the font:
Even now the Lord says,
Return to me with all your heart.
God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
abounding in steadfast love.
Thanks be to God for this unimaginable grace.

— Word —

Prayer for Illumination

At the lectern or pulpit:
Merciful God,
your Word is our way of truth and life.
Create in us hearts that are clean
and put your Holy Spirit within us,
so that we may receive your grace
and declare your praise forever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Before the readings:
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15

After the readings:
We proclaim Christ crucified—
the wisdom and power of God.
Thanks be to God. 
1 Corinthians 1:23–25


Ascription of Praise

After the sermon:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
we bend our knees and lift up our hearts,
giving glory to God forever. Amen.
Philippians 2:9–11

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Affirmation of Faith

The reconciling act of God in Jesus Christ
exposes the evil in people
as sin in the sight of God.
In sin, people claim mastery of their own lives,
turn against God and each other,
and become exploiters
and despoilers of the world.
They lose their humanity in futile striving
and are left in rebellion, despair, and isolation.
But God’s love never changes.
Against all who oppose the divine will,
God expresses love in wrath.
In the same love, God bore judgment
and shameful death in Jesus Christ,
to bring all people to repentance and new life.
Adapted from the Confession of 1967, 9.12, 9.14

Prayers of Intercession

In Christ Jesus, we have a great high priest
who knows our weakness and suffering;
therefore, with boldness, let us seek God’s grace.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With boldness, we pray for the church . . .
Make us messengers of your reconciling love—
faithful in suffering, hardship, and danger—
always proclaiming the joy of life in Christ.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With boldness, we pray for the earth . . .
Where clouds of poison spread gloom
and the land trembles at human violence,
blow the trumpet! Sound the alarm.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With boldness, we pray for all nations . . .
Break the yoke of oppression; put an end
to the pointing of fingers and speaking of evil,
so that all peoples may live in dignity and peace.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With boldness, we pray for this community . . .
Rebuild the ruins of our cities and towns;
restore our streets as safe places to live,
so that generations to come may praise you.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With boldness, we pray for loved ones . . .
Spring up quickly, with your healing power,
to satisfy the needs of those who suffer
and clothe the weak with your compassion.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

To you, O God, we entrust these prayers,
knowing that you alone can provide
grace to help in our time of need;
in the name of our great high priest
who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus Christ, our Sovereign and Savior. Amen.
Hebrews 4:14–16

— Eucharist —

Invitation to Offering

At the communion table:
Jesus says: Where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.
Let us offer our lives to the Lord.
Matthew 6:21

Prayer of Dedication

At the communion table:
God of grace,
you have gifted us with life in Christ.
Today we bring the gifts of our work
and the gifts of our hearts.
May all that we bring and all that we are
be your means of grace in the world,
that all people may encounter your good news. Amen.

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God:
You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The fast that you desire is righteousness and justice, compassion and peace:
to feed the hungry, help the poor, welcome the stranger, and set captives free.

Therefore we praise you, joining the song
of the universal church and the heavenly choir:
A Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”) is sung.

Blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior:
Jesus teaches sincerity of faith, and purity of heart in prayer and action—
not to make a spectacle of worship or charity, but to seek the inner gifts of grace;
not to store up treasures on earth, but to trust the heavenly treasure of your love.
The words of institution are included here.

Remembering your goodness and grace,
we offer ourselves to you with gratitude
as we share this joyful feast.
A Memorial Acclamation (e.g., “Christ has died”) is sung.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and upon this bread and cup;
make us one in the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Keep us faithful through hardship and suffering, hunger and sleepless nights.
Grant us purity, patience, kindness, holiness, truthful speech, and genuine love,
so that we may be reconciled to you through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Through the Lord Jesus Christ,
in the unity of the Spirit,
we bless you, God of glory,
now and forever.
An Amen is sung.

Lord’s Prayer


Breaking the Bread


Communion of the People


Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song


Prayer after Communion

Thank you, gracious God,
for giving us bread for the journey
of these forty days.
As we travel on through the wilderness,
help us to share your grace with others
and draw us ever closer to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Sending —

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song


Blessing and Charge

At the doors of the church:
May the steadfast love of God,
the abundant grace of Jesus Christ,
and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit
be with you this day and always. Amen.
Psalm 51:1, 11

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus:
If any wish to be my disciples
let them take up the cross
and follow me. Amen.
Mark 8:34

“The Pharisee and the Publican”


Additional Materials

Congregational Song


  • We Wait the Peaceful Kingdom (G) MERLE’S TUNE GTG 378
  • Just as I Am, without One Plea (E) WOODWORTH GTG 442, PH 370
  • If Thou but Trust in God to Guide Thee (O) WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT GTG 816, PH 282
  • Now Let Us All with One Accord (G) EX MORE DOCTI MYSTICO EH 146


  • Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (G) PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS GTG 753
  • Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading (O) NJOO KWETU, RHO MWEMA GTG 287
  • Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive (G) DETROIT GTG 444, PH 347
  • Be Near Me, Lord (OE) SHARP Rejoice in God, K. Lee Scott, MSM


  • Sign Us with Ashes (OE) PHOENIX GTG 433
  • Give Thanks (E) GIVE THANKS GTG 647
  • When the Poor Ones / Cuando el pobre (O) EL CAMINO GTG 762
  • Falling on My Knees (OG) FALLING ON MY KNEES WAS 3099


  • May God Support You All Your Days (O) DICKINSON COLLEGE GTG 548
  • All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night (G) TALLIS’ CANON GTG 675, PH 542
  • When Peace Like a River (E) VILLE DU HAVRE GTG 840
  • Mayenziwe / Your Will Be Done / Señor, que se haga tu voluntad (E) South African traditional SSS 594

Psalms and Canticles


  • Have Mercy, God, upon My Life [IRISH]; GTG 421
  • Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God [SARADAY]; GTG 423, PAS 51H
  • God, Be Merciful to Me [GOD BE MERCIFUL, REDHEAD 76]; LUYH 622, 623; PAS 51N, 51O; SSS 508, 509
  • Ten piedad de mí / Lord, Have Mercy on Me [TEN PIEDAD DE MÍ]; PAS 51E; SSS 520
  • Have Mercy on Us, Living Lord [CM]; SGP 81


  • The Sacrifice You Accept, O God; PSA 48, PH 196, PAS 51G
  • Have Mercy on Me, O God; PAS 51L
  • Misericordia, Señor / Be Merciful, O Lord; PAS 51M
  • The Lord Remembers That We Are but Dust [OLD 124TH]; HTP1 108
  • Be Merciful, O Lord, for We Have Sinned; PFTS2 6
  • Have Mercy on Me, O Lord; PND 20

Organ Music

  • “Aria,” Paul Manz, MSM (M)
  • “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God,” 6 Lenten Chorales for Organ, Paul Kickstat, MSM (E)
  • “O Mensch, Bewein,” BWV 622, J. S. Bach, public domain (M)

Anthems for Adult Choirs

  • “Create in Me a Clean Heart,” Ronald A. Nelson, KJO, SATB, acap (MA)
  • “Lord, Who throughout These Forty Days,” Zebulon Highben, MSM, SATB, acap (M)
  • “Create in Me a Pure Heart,” Mark Shepperd, KJO, SATB, pno, fl, cl (M)
  • “Turn Thy Face from My Sins,” Thomas Attwood, CPDL, SATB, solo, org (ME)
  • “To Dust,” Karen Marrolli, MSM, SATB, pno (ME)

Handbell Music

  • “Just As I Am,” Sandra Eithun, 3–5 oct, opt fl, AGEHR, 35232, Level 2
  • “Give Thanks,” Susan Geschke, 3–5 oct, HOPE, 2514, Level 2
  • “It Is Well with My Soul,” Cathy Moklebust, 3–5 oct, opt 3 oct hc, opt vln or fl, ALF, 20206, Level 3


  • The Pharisee and the Publican, JESUS MAFA (VDL)
  • Ash, Mike Moyers (VDL)
  • Tangled Blessing, Lauren Wright Pittman (VDL)
  • Ash Wednesday, Karl Spitzweg (VDL)