Tag Archives: liturgy


Here in Minnesota, churches are scrambling to move Ash Wednesday worship online or a week later, because a huge winter storm is promising to dump a couple of feet of snow on us just as we should be imposing ashes on each other.

Several years ago, I put together an Ash Wednesday service designed to include children in the liturgy. It draws on the Jewish custom of having the youngest children ask Four Questions at the Seder meal, giving adults the opportunity to teach about Passover. In this case, the children’s questions spark the Invitation to Table, and move through the Great Thanksgiving. If a snowstorm (or other unforeseen obstacle) prevents you from participating in an Ash Wednesday service with your local congregation, you might adapt this one to use at home.

Remember that sacred practices are meant to draw us into the holy season of Lent. They should not become obstacles in themselves as you come nearer to Christ.



CALL TO WORSHIP                                                                               

One:  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
All:    And also with you.
One:  Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins.
All:    God’s mercy endures forever.
One: We come from many families
to worship God as one family of God. 
All:    Remembering our covenant, we come in faithfulness.
One: We come to mark the beginning of the season of Lent. 
All:    We come to remember through ashes and prayer. 
One: We come to break bread together.
All:    We come to receive the cup in Christ’s name.
One: Come then, let us renew ourselves as we worship together. 
All:    Let us worship God!

Sing   Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesday’s Ashes
(The Faith We Sing, #2138)


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.

NEW TESTAMENT READING: 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:2
We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

GOSPEL READING: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
“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.”

HYMN: Behold the Lamb of God (CCLI Song # 265260)



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, so we may remember that only by your gracious gift are we given everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

One:  For all the times we fail to do what we know is right,
All:    We are sorry, Lord.

One: For all the times we do what we know is wrong,
All:    We are sorry, Lord.

One:  For all the times we fail to love each other,
All:    We are sorry, Lord.

One: For all the times we fail to love you,
All:    We are sorry, Lord.
Forgive us, and give us clean hearts.

Children:   Who can come to this table?
One: Jesus invites all who trust him to come to this table.

One: The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.
One: Lift up your hearts.
All:  We lift them up to the Lord.
One: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All:   It is right to five our thanks and praise.

Children: Why do we give thanks at this table?
One:  We give thanks for God’s creation, for making us in God’s image. We give thanks because God never gave up on us even though we were not faithful to God. We give thanks because when it was time, God sent Jesus to show God’s love for us.

Children: How do we praise God for this?
One: With all the faithful people of every time and place in the world we sing this song of God’s glory.

UMH #517 (stanza one)                       Holy, Holy, Holy


Children:  What do we remember at this table?
One: We remember Jesus, God’s child:

All:    Jesus healed the sick and restored sight to the blind; Jesus welcomed strangers and ate with outcasts. Dying on the cross, Jesus saved us from our sin, Risen from the dead, Jesus gives us new life. 

Children: Why do we eat bread at this table?
One: Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it
and gave it to his friends.

Children: Why do we drink juice at this table?
One: Jesus gave them the cup as the promise that our sins are forgiven. He said, “This is my blood, poured out for you.”

Children: But this is just everyday bread and juice!
One: Let us pray that the everyday bread and juice will become holy. Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit on these your gifts of bread and cup that the bread we break and the cup we bless may bring us closer to Jesus and Jesus closer to us.  Amen.

Breaking of the Bread – Pouring of the Cup
Imposition of Ashes and Distribution of Elements

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.
Repent and believe the gospel.

Receive Christ’s body, broken for you, and Christ’s blood, shed for you.


UMH #292  What Wondrous Love Is This?

Litany for Lent 3B 

The Old Testament lesson and responding Psalm for the third Sunday in Lent, Year B (RCL) work well when woven together as a responsive reading. First UMC New Ulm, MN will use this Litany, taken from Exodus 20 and Psalm 19, in worship on March 4, 2018. 

ONE:   God spoke from the mountain and said: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

ALL:   The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol.”

The commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.”

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”

The decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple.

“Honor your father and your mother.”

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

“You shall not murder.”

The ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

“You shall not commit adultery.”

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

“You shall not steal.”

Moreover by your commands is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

“You shall not bear false witness.”

But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

“You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.