Again & Again:
A Lenten Refrain
Welcome to Ash Wednesday worship & the season of Lent.
Join in Zoom worship on Wednesday, February 17 at 7 pm by Zoom (christoncapitolhill.com/worship) or watch the video below anytime.
In Lent, we’re reminded that, again and again, suffering and brokenness find us. We doubt again, we lament again, we mess up again. Again and again, the story of Jesus on the cross repeats—every time lives are taken unjustly, every time the powerful choose corruption and violence, every time individuals forget how to love. With exacerbation we exclaim, “Again?! How long, O God?” And yet, in the midst of the chaos of our lives, God offers a sacred refrain: “I choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.” Again and again, God breaks the cycle and offers us a new way forward.
This theme provides a clear invitation in a time when much is unclear. Even while we’re worshiping apart, we come to God again and again with our prayers, our dreams, our hopes, and our doubts. Even from a distance, we will continue to be community to one another—especially when it’s hard—by choosing each other over and over again. We try to continue to love God with the same persistence God chooses and claims us.
Our sub-theme, A Lenten Refrain, speaks to the ways God can make music of our lives. “Refrain” also reminds us that Lent is a season of abstaining from certain or harmful practices in order to take on new rhythms and habits. In this season, we need rituals—both old and new—to remember and be transformed. Embodied practice builds muscle memory. Repetition helps retrain our neural pathways. We need the 40 days of Lent because this season shapes us into more faithful disciples. Join in this Lent as again and again, we bring all of who we are to God and trust that God will meet us, time and again, along the way.
Compost happens. Food scraps break down and become dirt for the garden. Today we gather around the truth that we break down too. We hold dirt and ash, reminders of our mortality, our origin in the earth. St. Augustine called our bodies “the earth we carry around.” And when we die, we nourish the land by returning to dirt. While this image may seem bleak, it is also full of life. God claims what is counted as waste, breaks it down, and enlivens it so it may give life. Rhythms of growth and work in the land need dirt to yield food. Fittingly, we begin this Lenten season of returning to baptism and growing in our trust of God in the dirt. May our lives be as nourishing and life-giving now as our bodies will be to the earth when we die.
Song – How Small Our Span of Life Worship 636
Prayer of the Day
Creator God, there is a rumbling in us that won’t let go. It stirs in us like the wind stirs leaves—inviting us to move, drawing us forth. When we’re quiet, we know that rumble is the Holy Spirit, dancing love awake in us. So we’re here. And we’re still. And we’re quiet. And on this first day of Lent, we’re asking you to draw near. As we hear your scripture read aloud, open the door for us to move. Invite us in. Rumble us awake. Gratefully we pray, Amen.
Lament – Again & Again by The Many
“From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
This verse—spoken to us when we receive the imposition of ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday—reminds us of our humanity. So in full honesty, make a list of 5-10 challenges you are struggling with, recognizing that life is messy and life is complicated. Name anything that is hard or heavy in this moment.
Write them down in your journal or on the doodle page (included with this liturgy). Challenge yourself to think of the core emotion underlying each challenge. For example, instead of simply saying, “I’m busy,” perhaps you might confess: “I overcommit myself because I worry that others will think I’m selfish if I say no.”
Name your challenges and your confessions, offering them all to God.
Music here while people write/reflect.
Take a moment to look over your list. Ask God for forgiveness for the things you can control. Ask God for grace for the things you cannot.
(tips for young families)
Give enough doodle pages for each of your kids to have one. Help them write their challenges, if needed. When you’re finished, display them in a visible place for the season of Lent. If it is difficult for them to think of challenges in their life, invite them to reflect on problems they see in the world that they hope to help change.
Having read scripture and poetry, named the challenges you are facing, and watched these invitational videos, now write down 5-10 hopes you have for this Lenten season. Allow these videos to be encouragement for living life with intention. You can write your hopes in your journal or on your doodle page. As you write, consider these written hopes to be intentions that you are setting for the six weeks ahead. These are not intended to be aimless wishes on stars, but instead, thoughtful intentions for your one wild and precious life.
Song for reflection on hopes & intentions for Lent – Be Thou My Vision Worship 793
Reading “Invited,” a poem by Sarah Are
Our God is intimately aware of our humanity and the many ways we fall short or get stuck in the weeds of our own problems. Having confessed and written down some of the challenges that weigh heavily on us, here is a poem by Sarah Are, as a reminder of God’s grace:
I like to imagine that each year,
God invites me to a party.
God drops me a note that says,
“No gifts, casual dress. Come just as you are.”
I like to imagine that I am brave enough to go.
I like to imagine that I decide that I am worth it.
This was no pity invite,
There is no obligatory postage.
God wants me there.
So I get myself together,
Smudged glasses, sensitive ego, wrinkled shirt, and all.
I ring the doorbell a few minutes late on account of the fact that
I lost my keys twice trying to get out the door,
And I almost turn back to hide in my car,
Afraid that I might embarrass myself over appetizers or small talk.
But then God answers the door,
And God says, “You’re here!”
And I smile, because I am.
And with every step past that threshold,
I know that God is cheering me on.
It’s the pride of a parent watching their child take their first step.
If I freeze, God is not disappointed.
If I fall, God is not mad.
But if I trust the invitation,
If I move closer,
I know, God celebrates.
Friends, you’ve got mail.
It’s an invitation to dust off your shoes,
To go deeper,
To trust that you’re worth it,
To lose your keys and your faith,
And then to find them both, along with your worth.
You are invited.
We are invited.
Again and again and again.
This invitation is for you.
—Rev. Sarah Are
Song – Create in Me Worship 185
Gospel – Matthew 6: 19-21
“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.”
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
Message – Again & Again
Song of the Day – All Things of Dust to Dust Return – All Creation Sings 920
INVITATION TO LEN T
The assembly is seated. The presiding minister may invite the assembly into the discipline of Lent.
Friends in Christ, today with the whole church we enter the time of remembering Jesus’ passover from death to life, and our life in Christ is renewed.
We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and for God’s mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation. But our sinful rebellion separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, so that we do not enjoy the life our creator intended.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, the keeper of the covenant, the source of steadfast love, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
God hears us when we cry, and draws us close in Jesus Christ. Let us return to the one who is full of compassion.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Fountain of living water, pour out your mercy over us. Our sin is heavy, and we long to be free. Rebuild what we have ruined and mend what we have torn. Wash us in your cleansing flood. Make us alive in the Spirit to follow in the way of Jesus, as healers and restorers of the world you so love. Amen.
Beloved, God’s word never fails. The promise rests on grace: by the saving love of Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God, your sins are ☩ forgiven, and God remembers them no more. Journey in the way of Jesus. Amen.
IMPOSITION OF ASHES
This year we have to remember in creative ways… maybe with soil, maybe with dust lying under a bed, soot from a candle or a washable marker… but however we remember this year, we remember together with the whole church, gathered and scattered…
+ Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. +
Song – Remember that you are dust – from All Creation Sings
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth. May these ashes be a sign of our mortality and penitence, reminding us that only by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ are we given eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Song – Remember that you are dust – from All Creation Sings
Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation, that we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son, our Savior, bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.
Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
O God, you call your church to be ministers of reconciliation throughout the world. Inspire your church in its proclamation of the gospel and guide its ministries to build up the body of Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, you created the earth and all its inhabitants and you declared that it is good. Protect mountains and valleys, animals and plants, and direct us to be good stewards of all you have made. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, you desire peace. Direct governments and leaders to work for the well-being of all people and raise up advocates to speak and serve on behalf of the downtrodden. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, you are our hope in the midst of despair, our help in the midst of sorrow, and our consolation in the midst of affliction. Grant comfort to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit (especially) and support caregivers who attend to all in need. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, you are love, and you call us to love one another. Accompany with your grace those journeying toward baptism and call us all to repentance as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, you are our life and our salvation. We give you thanks for the righteous who have died in faith. Inspire us by their example to proclaim your steadfast love. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Offering – Beautiful Things – Jazz Ensemble
Song – Create in Me – Worship 185
Faithful God, you walk beside us in desert places, and you meet us in our hunger with bread from heaven. Accompany us in this meal, that we may pass over from death to life with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, through our Savior Jesus Christ. You call your people to cleanse their hearts and prepare with joy for the paschal feast, that, renewed in the gift of baptism, we may come to the fullness of your grace. And so, with all the choirs of angels, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and immortal: we praise and glorify, worship and adore you. You formed the earth from chaos; you encircled the globe with air; you created fire for warmth and light; you nourish the lands with water. You molded us in your image, and with mercy higher than the mountains, with grace deeper than the seas, you bless your people and cherish them as your own. That we, estranged and dying, might be adopted to live in your Spirit, you call to us through the life and death of Jesus.
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.
Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.
Together as the body of Christ, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
With this bread and cup we remember your Son, the first-born of your new creation. We remember his life lived for others, and his death and resurrection, which renews the face of the earth. We wait for Christ’s coming, when, with the world made perfect through your wisdom, all our sins and sorrows will be no more. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Holy God, holy and merciful one, holy and compassionate, send upon us and this meal your Holy Spirit, whose breath revives us for life, whose fire rouses us to love. Enfold in your arms all who share this holy food from home to home, table to table. Nurture in us the fruits of the Spirit, that we may be a living tree, sharing your bounty with all the world. Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.
Holy and benevolent God, receive our praise and petitions, as Jesus received the cry of the needy, and fill us with your blessing, until, needy no longer and bound to you in love, we feast forever with you, O God, O Living One, now and forever. Amen.
Jesus draws the whole world to himself. Come to this meal and be fed.
Now, if you are gathered with others, when the music begins, please share with one another first the bread and then the cup with the words,
The body of Christ, given for you.
The blood of Christ, poured out for you.
If you are by yourself, I offer this invitation…
Receive the body of Christ, given for you.
Receive the blood of Christ, poured out for you.
And if for any reason you will not receive Communion bread & cup today, a blessing for you…
May God fill you up with the Holy Spirit and give you all that you need.
Communion Song – Beautiful Things – All Creation Sings 925
God of steadfast love, at this table you gather your people into one body for the sake of the world. Send us in the power of your Spirit, that our lives bear witness to the love that has made us new in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Cambodian Lord’s Prayer
Closing Prayer & Benediction
God of open doors,
And open conversations,
Deep in our souls
That you are forever inviting us in.
Again and again,
You invite us to take another step closer,
Another step deeper,
Another step further,
In this journey of faith.
So with your invitation in our hands,
We pray for strength and wisdom.
Show us the next right step in this journey.
We are here.
You are here.
This is holy ground.
May this holy Lenten journey of days begin
Gratefully we pray, Amen.
You are what God made you to be: created in Christ Jesus for good works, chosen as holy and beloved, freed to serve your neighbor.
God bless you ☩ that you may be a blessing, in the name of the holy and life-giving Trinity. Amen.