Opening Prayer for Ash Wednesday Service From the Book of Common Prayer:
“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have
made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and
make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily
lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission
and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
Today is Ash Wednesday were most of Christendom enters in to the season of Lent by reflecting on one’s falleness, one’s sin, one’s mortality. It is a somber, dark, service that lacks significant joy YET it allows for joy to be in our lives. There is a prayer that I love in the service that says:
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Robert Benson makes the comment that Liturgy takes us to places that we would rarely CHOOSE to go ourselves and Ash Wednesday is one of those liturgies that speaks to this fact.
How often would we really choose to reflect on our sin?
How often would we choose to think of our mortality?
How often would we really want to admit that we are fallen?
How often would we really admit that we are NOT God?
When you receive the ashes in the service the following phrase is uttered:
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
While this is not the most uplifting thing to utter, it does remind you that 1. You are NOT God and 2. That we are going to die one day.
One of those things that we all need to be reminded of from time to time or else we will find ourselves too big for our britches.