When our deceit of ourselves would trap us in the pursuit of approval by others, and the relentless search for success, Lord Jesus Christ,. God's Beloved, have mercy on us. When our pride of ourselves would render us unable to receive the love, care, and support of friends,. Lord Jesus Christ,. God's Beloved, have mercy on ...
Awake, O Sleeper Ash Wednesday
Saint Paul’s Church A progressive Christian community with ancient roots
GATHERING We stand as able. Opening Acclamation: Presider: Awake, O Sleeper. Assembly: The reign of God dawns now. Presider: Blessed be the Beloved. Assembly: Our Health, our Hope, our Life. Hymn
(see hymn board)
Let us pray together: Beloved God, You are present within us as a fire burning in our hearts: burn away the shame that imprisons our souls; burn away the rage that drives us to vengeance; burn away the fear that despairs of your love. Leave nothing buried in our ashes, but hearts alive to You in Christ. Amen.
TELLING THE STORY We sit.
ISAIAH 58:1-12 Reader:
A reading from the prophet Isaiah.
“Shout for all you are worth, raise your voice like a trumpet! Proclaim to the people their faults, tell the house of Leah and Rachel and Jacob their sins! They seek me daily, they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the Law of its God. They ask me for laws that are just, they long for God to draw near. Yet they say, ‘Why should we fast if you never see it? Why do penance if you never notice?’ Because when you fast, it’s business as usual, and you oppress all your workers! Because when you fast, you quarrel and fight and strike the poor with your fist! Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high! Is that the sort of fast that pleases me – a day when people humiliate themselves, hanging their heads like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to YHWH? On the contrary! This is the sort of fast that pleases me: Remove the chains of injustice! Undo the ropes of the yoke! Let those who are oppressed go free, and break every yoke you encounter! Share your bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people! Clothe those who are naked, and don’t hide from the needs of your own flesh and blood! Do this, and your light will shine like the dawn- and your healing will break forth like lightning! Your integrity will go before you, and the glory of YHWH will be your rearguard. Cry, and YHWH will answer; call, and God will say, ‘I am here’- provided you
remove from your midst all oppression, finger-pointing, and malicious talk! If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows will become like noon. YHWH will always guide you, giving relief in desert places. God will give strength to your bones and you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never run dry. You will rebuild the ancient ruins, and build upon age-old foundations. You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, and Restorer of Ruined Neighborhoods.” Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Assembly: Thanks be to God.
PSALM 103 Bless the Beloved, O my soul, and all that is within me; I bless your Holy Name! Bless the Beloved, O my soul, and remember the goodness of Love. You forgive our iniquities, You heal our disease, You save us from the snares of fear, You crown us with steadfast love and mercy, You satisfy our every need and renew our spirit like the eagle’s. Through You comes peace and justice for all who are oppressed. You make known the pathway of truth, and guide us on the Way. You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. You love us more than we can ask or imagine; in truth we belong to You. For You understand us, requiting us not according to our ignorance or error. As far as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is your loving response toward those who are humble;
So far does your enduring strength uphold those who face the dark within. As parents are concerned for their children, so You come to those who reach out in faith. For our ways are known, our weaknesses seen with compassion. As for humanity, our days are like the grass; we flourish like a flower of the field; When the wind passes over, it is gone, and that place knows it no more. Yet the steadfast love of the Beloved is from everlasting to everlasting to those who awaken, and justice to all generations, to those who remember your Promises, and follow your Voice. The Beloved’s home is our hearts, as we discover in the Silence. Bless the Beloved, O you angels, you faith-filled ones who bear the Word, following the Voice of Love! Bless the Beloved, all you people, those who abandon themselves into Love’s hands! Bless the Beloved, bless all of Creation! Bless the Beloved, O my soul!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:20B––6:10 Reader:
A reading from Paul’s letter to the community at Corinth.
Therefore we implore you in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God. For our sake, God made the One who was without sin to be sin, so that by this means we might become the very holiness of God. As Christ’s co-workers we beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For God says through Isaiah, “At the acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation! We take pains to avoid giving offense to anyone, for we don’t want our ministry to be blamed. Instead, in all that we do we try to present ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid trials, difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. We conduct ourselves with innocence, knowledge, patience and kindness in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love, with the message of truth and the power of God,
wielding the weapons of justice with both right hand and left— regardless of whether we are honored or dishonored, spoken of favorably or unfavorably. We are called impostors, yet we are truthful; we are called unknowns, yet we are famous; we are said to be dying, yet we are alive; punished, but not put to death; sorrowful, though we are always rejoicing; poor, yet we enrich many. We seem to have nothing, yet we possess everything! Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Assembly: Thanks be to God. We stand as able. Hymn
(see hymn board)
MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-21 Deacon: A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Assembly: Glory to you, Lord Christ. “Beware of practicing your piety before others to attract their attention; if you do this, you will have no reward from your Abba God in heaven. When you do acts of charity, for example, don’t have it trumpeted before you; that is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets, that they may be praised by others. The truth is, they’ve already received their reward in full. But when you do acts of charity, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing; your good deeds must be done in secret and your Abba God – who sees all that is done in secret – will repay you. “And when you pray, don’t behave like the hypocrites; they love to pray standing up in the synagogues and on street comers for people to see them. The truth is, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to God who is in that secret place, and your Abba God – who sees all that is done in secret – will reward you. “And when you fast don’t look depressed like the hypocrites. They deliberately neglect their appearance to let everyone know that they are fasting. The truth is, they have already received their reward. But when you fast brush your hair and wash your face. Don’t let anyone know you’re fasting except your Abba God, who sees all that is done in secret. And Abba God – who sees everything that is done in secret – will reward you. “Don’t store up earthly treasures for yourselves, which moths and rust destroy and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal them. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be as well.” Deacon: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Assembly: Praise to you, Lord Christ.
Brief Reflections We stand as able.
AN INVITATION TO LIVE A HOLY LENT Presider: Dear People of God, during this season of Lent we discover again that every attachment deprives us of the freedom to wait upon God in the present moment. All too often we are trapped by anxious minds and fearful hearts and we search for someone to blame. We feel as if we have fallen from grace and
are lost from the Holy Truth of life-cradled-in-Love. We become convinced that we are set apart from Love, guilty, judged, and shamed into suffering souls. In desperation we condemn others and seek release in the delusion of revenge. We have forgotten that the reason God becomes incarnate is that we might become god. The sea of Joy washes upon us with relentless tenderness, bearing our lifeless souls across the Red Sea. With our own wrath drowned in Christ, our souls live through the purity of the unity of the will of God that encloses all creation. With Christ, the Beloved, our hearts now know: there is no one except Christ, no one loves except, Christ, for not one is except Christ, and thus Christ alone loves completely. We long to know our union with the Beloved who ceaselessly gives us birth and calls us home. We cast about for words that might begin to express the cry of our soul to receive the Divine kiss whose moisture gives us life. And so we enter this season with hearts that cry, shout, whisper, plea, and offer thanksgiving, in love In deep gratitude, we stand in silent adoration and gratefulness before God, the Most Merciful. Silence is then kept for a time.
Presider: Almighty and Compassionate One, created in your image and called to become your very likeness, your Spirit creates our bodies from the dust of the earth. Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our flesh’s mortality and may they remind us that time is short and passes ever so swiftly. We must not tarry. Resurrection today is the most precious gift. Now is the time to awake and receive the life of Christ. All: Amen. Please come forward for the signing with ashes.
Remember that your body is dust, and to dust it shall return.
The following Psalm is then said:
PSALM 51 Have mercy on me, O Gracious One, according to your steadfast love; According to your abundant kindness forgive me where my thoughts and deeds have hurt others. Lead me in the paths of justice, guide my steps on paths of peace! Teach me, that I may know my weaknesses, the shortcomings that bind me, The unloving ways that separate me, that keep me from recognizing your life in me;
For I keep company with fear, and dwell in the house of ignorance. Yet, I was brought forth in love, and love is my birthright. You have placed your truth in the inner being; therefore, teach me the wisdom of the heart. Forgive all that binds me in fear, that I might radiate love; cleanse me that your light might shine in me. Fill me with gladness; help me to transform weakness into strength. Look not on my past mistakes but on the aspirations of my heart. Create in me a clean heart, O Gracious One, and put a new and right spirit within me. Enfold me in the arms of love, and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Restore in me the joy of your saving grace, and encourage me with a new spirit.
LITANY OF PENITENCE We kneel or stand.
Beloved God, we have sinned against you, in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with all our heart. We have not loved others as Christ loves us. We are truly sorry. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Presider: We struggle to love You with our whole heart, mind, and strength. We struggle to love our neighbors as ourselves. We struggle to forgive others, as we have been forgiven. Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. We are all too often deaf to your call to serve, as Christ serves us. We are not true to the mind of Christ and we cause suffering in your Body. Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our sloth would render us so numb to matters of our heart, that we would forget our Love rather than risk conflict, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our lust for power and control would lead us to deny our vulnerability, indulge our appetites, and exploit others, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our gluttony for entertainment and distraction would compromise our constancy with those in pain and need, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our fear of chaos and loss would lead us to rationalize our control through dogmatism of religion and the oppression of those different than ourselves, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our greed for knowledge and certainty and time would isolate us from the responsibilities of friendship and community, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our envy of others would lead us to believe in our essential inadequacy, incompleteness, and worthlessness, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our deceit of ourselves would trap us in the pursuit of approval by others, and the relentless search for success, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our pride of ourselves would render us unable to receive the love, care, and support of friends, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. When our anger with imperfection and error would cause us to abuse ourselves and others with judgment and ridicule, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us.
When our ignorance renders us blind to your forgiveness, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. Forgive us our sins, have pity on us, Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved, have mercy on us. Presider: Most Merciful One: You desire that we awaken from our sleep and turn from blind destruction and live. You forever forgive and restore all who open their hearts, minds, and bodies to receive your Divine kiss of compassion. Beloved Father, we kneel with hearts of gratefulness. You, as Love, are forgiveness. You, as Mercy, receive all who in sorrow repent, and with sincere hearts believe the Holy Gospel of Love. Therefore we beseech You, Gracious God, turn our hearts to You alone, that we may know true repentance and the Holy Spirit. May who we are and what we do know favor in your Heart. May the remainder of our life hereafter be loving, beautiful, and good – all a foretaste of unending life in You; through Jesus Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
LITANY OF AWAKENING HAVE MERCY ON US Holy God, Creator of heaven and earth, One God, Have mercy on us. Holy and Mighty, Redeemer of the world, One God, Have mercy on us. Holy Immortal One, Sanctifier of the faithful, One God, Have mercy on us. Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us. DELIVER US From all ignorance and evil; from pride and vanity; from envy, avarice and anger; from gluttony and lust; and from hearts blinded from passion, Savior, Deliver us. From sloth, deceit, and fear; from adoration of praise and wealth; from hardness of heart and contempt for your word of love and your rule of forgiveness, Savior, Deliver us. From bodies numb to love; from mindless pursuits of the flesh, Savior, Deliver us. From despair in times of disaster and famine; from revenge in the face of violence and murder; and from failing to die before we die, Savior, Deliver us.
In all times of sorrow; in all times of joy; in the hour of our death and at the day of judgment, Savior, Deliver us. By the mystery of your holy incarnation; by your birth, childhood and growth; by your baptism, fasting and temptation, Savior, Deliver us. By your ministry in word and work; by your mighty acts of compassion; by the preaching of God’s reign, Savior, Deliver us. By your fidelity in the face trial; by your courage before the brutal cross; by your passionate love and unwillingness to compromise love when confronted with death, Savior, Deliver us. By your mighty resurrection; by your glorious ascension; and by your sending of the Holy Spirit, Savior, Deliver us. O CHRIST, THE BELOVED Hear our prayers, O Christ the Beloved, Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May your Holy Wisdom embody and guide your holy Church; fill all peoples with love and truth; and grant humanity that unity which is your desire. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we be as ready to hear the good news from your people of other denominations and faiths, as we are to proclaim the gospel, healing our false divisions, celebrating our diversity, and pursuing our common mission. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we encourage and support one another in our many and various ministries, seeking always to be faithful stewards of the gifts You bestow all creatures, Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we hold in trust the questioning mind, the searching heart, the thirsting soul, guarding as sacred the many different paths into you, the Font of all Life. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May You strengthen those who stand; comfort and help the fainthearted; raise up the fallen; and in the end, may Love reign without end. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. Gracious God, may Christ Sophia guide the leaders of the nations into the ways of peace and justice. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May Christ Sophia enlighten and strengthen Barack, the President of the United States, Rick, the Governor of this state, that in all things they may do your will, for your glory and the common good. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved.
May Christ Sophia encourage the Congress of the United States, the members of the President’s Cabinet, those who serve in our state legislature, and all others in authority, with grace to walk always in the ways of truth. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May Christ Sophia bless the justices of the Supreme Court and all those who administer the law, that they may act with integrity and do justice for all your people. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May Christ Sophia give us the will to use the resources of the earth to your glory and for the good of all. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May Christ Sophia bless and keep all peoples as yours, Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. Gracious God, may we worship You in body, mind and soul, celebrating together the joy of your presence in all creation. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we lay all that we are and all that we have in your hands, trusting in your redeeming love to mend our brokenness. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we forever know You as our heart’s deepest desire, opening your gracious table to all who hunger and thirst. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we come to see Christ in all your creatures, being ready to honor, help and serve those in need. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we know ourselves to be created in your triune image of Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, restoring wholeness in your creation – beautiful, yet broken through ignorance, greed, and fear. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May we hear, receive and know your Word, becoming a people set free in love to create communities of justice. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved. May those whose bodies have returned to dust know eternal life in You (especially _______) and may You grant us with them a share in your eternal glory. Hear us, O Christ, the Beloved.
HOLY GOD Forgive us our sins; have pity on us, O Beloved; and be unto us Mercy without end. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy on us.
We stand as able.
THE PEACE Presider: The peace of Christ be always with you. Assembly: And also with you.
Fed with Thanksgiving Presentation Anthem Presentation of the Gifts Presider: Assembly: Presider: Assembly: Presider: Assembly: Presider:
Love is you. And also you. Love raises our joyous hearts unto God. For Love is God and God is Love. Our Souls cry out with thanks to God, our Love. We live in God alone, for nothing else remains in Love’s bright burning. As daughters and sons of Zion, we neither desire nor despise poverty nor tribulation, neither mass nor sermon, neither fast nor prayer. We give to Nature all that is necessary, without remorse of conscience. For Love transforms our Souls into students of Divinity, where we sit in the valley of Humility and on the plain of Truth, and rest on the mountain of Love. And because all things are consonant with God, we find God in all things. We have become joy itself, swimming in the sea of Joy. As joyous fire and flame of God, our hearts sing forth Love’s praise:
Every attachment deprives us of the freedom to wait upon God in the present moment. Trapped by anxious minds and fearful hearts we search for someone to blame. We feel as if we have fallen from grace and are lost from the Holy Truth of life cradled in Love. We become convinced that we are set apart from Love, guilty, judged, and shamed into suffering Souls. In desperation we condemn others and seek release in the delusion of revenge. Yet the sea of Joy washes upon us with relentless tenderness, bearing our lifeless Souls across the Red Sea. With our own wrath drowned in Christ, our Souls live through the purity of the unity of the will of God that encloses all creation.
With Christ, the Loved one, our hearts now know: there is no one except Him, no one loves except Him, for not one is except Him, and thus He alone loves completely. Lover, Loved, Love: life is a banquet flowing from the heart of the Triune God. The Lover has annihilated Jesus, and the Loved alone remains who invites all to the table spread upon the sea of Love. Mind, heart, body, broken open, shattered, no walls existing – the shimmering face of the Lover cradles our countenance and says: Receive, eat. This is my Body, I am for you. Remember, you can be no less for me. Freely, the Loved pours forth his life. This Soul is free, supremely free, in the stock, in all her branches and all the fruits of her braches. Nothing but sweet flowing wine remains and the Soul says: Drink this, all of you: This is my life Blood a joyous Covenant from which flows forgiveness of sin. Remember, you can be no less for me.
Through Love and with Love and in Love, in the unity of Holy Love, to God be honor, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. AMEN.
As our Savior Christ has taught us, we now sing,
THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD Presider: We break this bread to share in the Body of Christ. Assembly: We who are many are one body, for we all share in the one bread. Presider: The Gifts of God. All are invited to God’s table.
THE COMMUNION We receive the bread in open and outstretched hands. We take hold of the cup firmly and guide it to our lips or hold the bread and dip it into the wine. Our response to receiving of the bread and wine is “Amen”.
(see hymn board)
SENDING FORTH We stand as able.
Presider: Let us pray together: Christ, our Loved, speaks to us: “You have been at my table, and I have given you my feast, And you are so very well taught, and you have savored my feast so fully, And my wines from the full barrel, by which you are so filled, That the bouquet alone makes you inebriated, and you will never be other.” Amen. Hymn Nada te turbe
Presider: The Wisdom of God, the Love of God, and the Grace of God strengthen us to be Christ’s hands and heart in this world, in the name of the Holy Trinity. Assembly: Amen. Deacon: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Assembly: Thanks be to God.