Yesterday I led an Ash Wednesday Service at my place of Ministry, HopeTree Family Services. Below is the service in its entirety. Repent and know that God loves you.
"If you have sinned, do not lose hope because of your error. Pray instead.
On the other hand, if you have done something good, never presume too much on account of your goodness. Never congratulate yourself excessively.
Never look down on someone for sinning, and remember that when the wayward soul prays and repents of doing wrong, the Lord will raise that person up, as he did Lazarus."
- Aelfric of Eynsham (c. 955 - 1010)
Responsive Litany (from Joel 2:1-2. 12-14 and Psalm 70
The word of the Lord,
That came from Joel
All who live in the land
Put on sackcloth
Mourn and cry
Wear it all night
For we are neglecting God
Declare a holy fast
Call a sacred assembly
Gather the community
And cry out to the Lord
Make haste, O God
And deliver me
Make haste to help me.
Meditation Love and Penitence
(This is part confession to the other party that is involved will remain nameless)
I don't know what you were like when you were in high school but I got the occasional wild hair to do what I know I should not do. During my junior year of high school a friend and I decided we would stay out all night. Long story short, we were successful, our parents never found out. As a result I found a new sense of confidence. So guess what, my senior year I decided to try it again. This time with another friend we preceded to stay out all night. But things were different this time. This friend decided to bring alcohol which led her to get really sick. I had two choices. Let her be sick and hope it wore off before taking her home the next morning or do what was right and take her home then and get caught in a lie. I chose the ladder. I would rather get int rouble with my parents than allow a friend to suffer. So my senior year I spent the first month grounded. Never been grounded before but I deserved it. During this time I noticed my dad's, dark brown hair was starting to grey. Right or wrong I started to feel guilty for what I did, for lying to my parents. I saw my father's grey hair as a sign of stress that I put on him through my lying. Now it must be said my father never said anything to me concerning me lieing but nonetheless I felt guilty.
Guilt can be a powerful think and cause of to change how we behave and how we treat others and because of this I think that's why God gave us the act of repentance as a form of worship to him. God does not want us to feel guilty, he wants us to repent and know forgiveness. It was not until college that I learned of Ash Wednesday and I found purpose in confession after that. Baptist, at times are very good at throwing the baby out with the bath water. While I do believe that I do not have to go to a priest for confession I do believe that when we discard it we do ourselves a disservice. Confession/repentance brings healing and we invite God into our lives in a deeper and fuller way. So with that in mind I want to read a passage int he hopes it helps you to see God in a new way, a deeper way and in a larger way.
1 Corinthians 13 is the famous love passage. I am going to read it in a modified way and replace the word love with God.
"God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy and does not boast, God is not proud. God is not rude and is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrong. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes and God always perseveres. God never fails.....And now these three remain: faith, hope and God. But the greatest of these is God."
Remember, God loves you and so do I!