Today we begin together our holiest of seasons.
We invite you to set these days of Lent apart from all other days of the year. These are days for focusing on our relationship with God our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Savior!
Today we are invited to take upon our forehead the mark of ash in the shape of a cross.
Today we remember that we are mortal and our bodies will return to the dust of the earth.
But our mortality is reshaped by the love of Christ. We wear our ash in the form of His cross. We claim His forgiveness and the resurrection to new life that He promises.
Return today to the LORD! Where ever you have wondered; no matter how dusty your faith may seem, the Lord is eager to welcome you home and bring new life!
We have services at Mt. Carmel and New Market today at 11 am & 1 pm and an evening service at New Market at 7:00 pm.
If you are unable to come to a service you can come in spirit by praying and reflecting upon the Ash Wednesday prayers below.
Prayer in Poetry: Blessing of the Ashes
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.
Let us be marked with the cross, the sign of forgiveness, the sign of hope that leads to new beginnings.
(by Jan Richardson)
A Prayer for returning and beginning a new season:
Almighty God you know every cell of my body and every footprint I have left behind me. You know the ways I have come to you honestly and you know the secrets I try to hide. You know the space I have put between us because you have filled every ounce of that space with your presence. So you find me here and I hear your invitation to return. God give me the courage to be honest during this season. Don't let me fake my way through, giving up some superficial things that make no difference. Rather God reveal to me today your desire for these weeks. Help me to recognize and name what is distorting my life and weakening my faith. Help me to hear the excuses I am making. Give me the courage to lay them down. Give me strength and wisdom to focus again on you and the ways you bring truth and life. Lead me back to prayer, to scripture, to worship, to the places where I gain clarity and strength. Lord, I give you these 40 days, give me resolve not to take them back. Amen.