Ash Wednesday

March 9, 2011 — Leave a comment

Opening

The Lord grant us a quiet night and peace at the last.  Amen.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praise to Your name, O Most High;
to herald Your love in the morning, Your truth at the close of day.
Psalm 92:1-2

A Reflection on Confession

What is confession?

Answer: Confession consists of two parts.  One is that we confess our sins.  The other is that we receive absolution or forgiveness from the confessor as from God Himself, by no means doubting but firmly believing that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.
Martin Luther, Small Catechism, Confession and Absolution

If we say 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 to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9

What sins should we confess?

Answer: Before God we should acknowledge that we are guilty of all manner of sins, even those of which we are not aware, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.  Before the confessor, however, we should confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us.
Martin Luther, Small Catechism, Confession and Absolution

I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin. Psalm 38:18
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 51:1-6

I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.
Psalm 38:18

What are such sins?

Answer: Reflect on your condition in the light of the Ten Commandments: whether you are a father or mother, a son or daughter, a master or servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, lazy, ill-tempered, or quarrelsome; whether you have harmed anyone by word or deed; and whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted anything, or done other evil.
Martin Luther, Small Catechism, Confession and Absolution

as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:10-23

Meditation

Savior, When in Dust to Thee
Stanzas 1-4
Robert Grant, 1779-1838

Savior, when in dust to Thee
Low we bow the adoring knee;
When, repentant, to the skies
Scarce we lift our weeping eyes;
O, by all Thy pains and woe
Suffered once for us below,
Bending from thy throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

By Thy helpless infant years,
By Thy life of want and tears,
By Thy days of deep distress
In the savage wilderness,
By the dread, mysterious hour
Of the insulting tempter’s pow’r,
Turn, O turn a fav’ring eye;
Hear our penitential cry!

By Thine hour of dire despair,
By Thine agony of prayer,
By the cross, the nail, the thorn,
Piercing spear, and torturing scorn,
By the gloom that veiled the skies
O’er the dreadful sacrifice,
Listen to our humble sigh;
Hear our penitential cry!

By Thy deep expiring groan,
By the sad sepulchral stone,
By the vault whose dark abode
Held in vain the rising God,
O, from earth to heav’n restored,
Mighty, reascended Lord,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

Prayers

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
O Lord hear my prayer.
And let my cry come to You.

Heavenly Father, You have told us that you do not desire sacrifice, but mercy.  You do not delight in the ways that we justify and defend our actions, that we turn again to call the power of sin, death and devil our true lord.  Forgive our unfaithfulness, our idolatry and our disobedience for Your Son’s sake.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Spirit of the living God, only by Your power may we truly call Jesus Lord.  You intercede for us when our words fail us.  By Your strength and power let us approach the hill of His cross in broken spirit and with a contrite heart and there find the forgiveness of our sins and Your peace.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, You have given Your very life to cleanse us, to heal us and to restore us.  We stand now in the hope of a resurrection like Yours, united to Your death in the waters of our baptism.  Lord remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Holy God, holy and most gracious Father
Have mercy and hear us.  Amen.

A Reflection on Forgiveness through the Sacrifice of Christ

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. .
Romans 6:23

He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
Hebrews 10:5-7, 10, 12-24

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

Closing

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.
Jude 1:24-25

All scritpure passages are ESV

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