Ash Wednesday Worship — Feb. 17, 2021

Posted

Due to the wintry weather conditions, in-person services at the church are canceled for tonight. An online service is below.

To listen to this message, click on the audio file below:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Psalm 51 For the Music Director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the abundance of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak, and You are blameless when You judge. 5 I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You make me to know wisdom. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones that You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You. 14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. 18 Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then they will offer young bulls on Your altar.

Devotional

“Yet even now, declares the LORD, return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning. Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents from punishing. Who knows? He might turn aside and relent, and He might leave behind a blessing — a grain offering and a food offering for the LORD your God.” Joel 2:12-14

As God warned His people through the prophet Joel that the Day of the Lord was coming, so He warns us that the Day of Judgment is near — it is near for us as a nation and as a people; and, of course, the Day of Christ’s return when all will stand before His throne could come at any time. The arrival of that Day only waits because God is being patient with us, not desiring that any perish but that all repent and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

God’s Word tells us in regard to the timing of Christ’s return and the day of judgment, in 2 Pet. 3:9: “The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness. But He is patient with us, because He does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”

And now, with God’s judgment drawing ever closer, He warns us and calls upon us: “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning. Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents from punishing. Who knows? He might turn aside and relent, and He might leave behind a blessing — a grain offering and a food offering for the LORD your God.”

God does not desire that we just go through the outward motions — that we simply fast and say the right words or bow our heads and have ashes smeared upon our foreheads. He desires not that we tear our clothes as a sign of our deep sorrow over our sin but that we tear our hearts and turn to the LORD God for His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus and for the sake of His atoning sacrifice on the cross. It’s not enough to just say the words of confession we speak each Sunday. He desires that our acknowledgment of sins and our sorrow over them be true and sincere — with the whole heart.

As David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24, so we examine ourselves and pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me, and lead me in the ancient way.”

God desires that we examine ourselves, repent of our sins and turn to Him in faith for His grace, mercy and forgiveness in the cross of Christ Jesus. And, He assures us that He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness and repents of the evil He determined against us because of our sinfulness (cf. Exodus 20:5-6; 34:6-7).

The Bible instructs us in Psalm 103:8-12: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always accuse, neither will He keep his anger forever. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

The Bible tells us: “For You, Lord, are good, and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call on You” (Psalm 86:5). The Scriptures tell us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8-2:2).

In Christ Jesus, and for the sake of His cross, God reaches out to us in grace and mercy and desires that we return to Him in faith for pardon, forgiveness and life eternal!

And, when we repent and look to God in faith for His promised mercy in Christ Jesus, we can be assured that God will pardon our sins for Jesus’ sake and grant unto us life everlasting instead of death and condemnation. And, if we repent, God may also repent of the judgment determined against us, our nation, and our people and send to us His blessing instead.

O gracious and merciful God, forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake and cleanse our hearts that we might walk in Your ways until that Day when You come to judge and condemn all who have been disobedient to Your Word but to be glorified in all who have believed and trusted in Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Amen.

The Litany
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
O Christ, hear us. O God, the Father in heaven: Have mercy on us. O God the Son, Redeemer of the world: Have mercy on us. O God, the Holy Spirit: Have mercy on us.
Be gracious to us. Spare us, good Lord. Be gracious to us. Help us, good Lord.
From all sin; from all error; from all evil: Good Lord, deliver us.
From the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death; from pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and rebellion; from lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water; and from everlasting death: Good Lord, deliver us.
By the mystery of your holy incarnation; by your holy nativity; by your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by your agony and bloody sweat; by your cross and passion; by your precious death and burial; by your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter: Help us, good Lord.
In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death; and in the day of judgment: Help us, good Lord.
We poor sinners pray; Hear us, O Lord God.
And to rule and govern your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of your church in the true knowledge and understanding of your Word, and in holiness of life; to put an end to all schisms and causes of offence; to bring into the way of truth all who have gone astray and are deceived; to beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into your harvest; to accompany your Word with your Spirit and grace; to raise up those who fall, and to strengthen those who stand; and to comfort and help the weak-hearted and the distressed: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
To give to all nations peace and concord; to preserve our country from discord and contention; to give to our nation victory over all its enemies; to direct and defend our president, and all in authority; and to bless and keep our judges, leaders, and all our people: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
To see and help all who are in danger, necessity, and trouble; to protect all who travel by land or water; to preserve all women in the perils of childbirth; to strengthen and keep all sick persons and young children; to set free all who are innocently imprisoned; to defend and provide for all fatherless children and widows; and to have mercy on all people: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve to our use the fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; We pray, hear us.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Have mercy on us.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Have mercy on us.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Grant us your peace.
O Christ, hear us. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6 MEV)
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Collects
O Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you do not desire the death of sinners, but that they turn from their evil ways and live. Graciously keep those punishments from us which we deserve for our sins, and grant us grace to serve you with pure and holy lives; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29:11)
O God, all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works come from you. Give your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments. Defend us from the fear of our enemies, that we may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Blessing
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

Enslaved by sin and bound in chains

1 Enslaved by sin and bound in chains,
Beneath its dreadful tyrant sway,
And doomed to everlasting pains,
We wretched, guilty captives lay.

2 Nor gold nor gems could buy our peace,
Nor all the world’s collected store
Suffice to purchase our release;
A thousand worlds were all too poor.

3 Jesus, the Lord, the mighty God,
An all-sufficient ransom paid.
O matchless price! His precious blood
For vile, rebellious traitors shed.

4 Jesus the Sacrifice became
To rescue guilty souls from hell;
The spotless, bleeding, dying Lamb
Beneath avenging Justice fell.

5 Amazing goodness! Love divine!
Oh, may our grateful hearts adore
The matchless grace nor yield to sin
Nor wear its cruel fetters more!

Author: Anne Steele (1760)
Tune: WENN WIR IN HÖCHSTEN NÖTEN
“Genevan Psalter,” 1547

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