Tower Weekly

Lovely Lane

Tower Weekly
February 14, 2024

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

LOVELY LANE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE, YEAR B

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2024

7:00 P.M.

† Stand as you are able

 

Words of Welcome

Today, we embark on a journey of introspection and renewal as we enter into the sacred season of Lent. Whether you come with a sense of anticipation or a need for comfort, know that you are warmly welcomed into this space. Gathered together, we open our hearts to reflection and repentance, as we seek a deeper connection with God and each other.

 

Invocation

God of our innermost being, beyond our outward appearances, beyond the structures of our churches, beyond our programs and human designs, only you can purify us. Only you can cleanse us of all our sins and guilt. Only you can rescue us from the fearsome Day of the Lord. You are the merciful and just God. When we turn, we encounter you. Guide us to turn, O God who knows every heart, and discover your presence among us: Emmanuel – the Christ dwelling within us all. We ignite our flames for you, to mirror your radiance.

 

† Call to Worship

Let us gather, for God’s people are called.

From the tender embrace of nursing infants to the wisdom of aged grandparents,

all are welcomed into this sacred space.

Let us repent, for God’s people are called.

From those who openly bear their faults to those whose hidden struggles weigh heavy,

all are embraced in the arms of forgiveness.

Let us seek reconciliation, for God’s people are called.

From those who have wandered far to those whose silent cries echo in the darkness,

all are invited to find solace and restoration in our God.

 

A Reading from the Prophets     Joel 2:1-2, 12-17     NRSV

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near-a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?

 

Prayer of Contrition

O God, deliver us:

From the blindness that sins unknowingly;

From the pride that refuses to acknowledge its wrongs;

From the self-will that sees only its own desires;

From the self-righteousness that perceives no flaws within;

From the callousness that sins without remorse;

From the defiance that feels no sorrow for wrongdoing;

From the evasion that shifts blame elsewhere;

From the hardened heart that cannot repent.

Grant us instead:

Eyes that see our faults clearly;

A conscience that swiftly warns us of transgressions;

A heart that cannot sin without feeling regret and remorse.

May our genuine repentance lead to true forgiveness,

And may we experience the vastness of your love,

Which covers all our sins;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

† Gospel Lesson     Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21     NRSV

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Meditation     Rev. Levon D. Sutton, Pastor

 

A Litany for Ash Wednesday

On this solemn day of Ash Wednesday, let us come together in reflection and prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the grace to enter this Lenten season with open hearts and minds,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the courage to confront our weaknesses and shortcomings,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the strength to turn away from sin and embrace a life of repentance,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the wisdom to discern the path of righteousness and follow it faithfully,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For all those who are suffering, that they may find solace and comfort in your love,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For a spirit of humility and contrition as we receive the ashes upon our foreheads,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the grace to forgive those who have wronged us and seek reconciliation,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the courage to extend a hand of mercy and compassion to those in need,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the gift of perseverance as we journey through this season of penance and renewal,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For a deepening of our relationship with you, O God, as we strive to live according to your will,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Let us now pause to offer our own intentions and petitions to the Lord. (Silent prayer)

Almighty and merciful God, hear the prayers of your people on this day of repentance and renewal. Grant us the grace to turn our hearts back to you and to walk in the path of righteousness. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Thanksgiving Over the Ashes

 

In your boundless mercy, you beckon us to the journey of repentance.

Your Word reminds us that we are but dust and earth.

Yet, in your promise, you raise the lowly from the dust.

Approach now and accept this mark of repentance.

 

Imposition of Ashes

 

† Benediction

May God fashion within you a pure heart, a renewed heart, a heart that passionately pursues the justice and mercy of the Lord. May you embrace the gift of salvation – not as a possession to hoard for yourself, but as a divine intervention, achieved through the defeat of Sin upon the cross of Jesus Christ. And may you humbly submit yourself before the Lord, approaching Him with a contrite spirit, a repentant heart, receiving from His hand abundant compassion and unwavering love. Amen.

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