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Posted by on Feb 2, 2021 | 0 comments

Ash Wednesday 2021

In the COVID-19 era, the very tactile and personal liturgy for Ash Wednesday poses unique challenges for video worship.  Below is a liturgy we developed for 2021 that has been translated for the screen into the following format:

  • 20 minute service will be recorded in advance, rendered into a worship video, and viewed by “share screen” option that is streamed simultaneously through Zoom and YouTube Live.
  • During the Imposition of Ashes, we will pause the video and go live.  This will allow us to see one another as we wipe ashes on our foreheads in our own settings.
  • The ashes themselves were mixed with oil, smeared onto small pieces of parchment paper, folded and inserted into small ziptop bags.  They were left to be picked up outside of our sanctuary and also mailed prior to the service to those who requested them.  Here’s what they look like:

LINK TO FULL VIDEO (available at 11am on 2/17/2021):


**Sing/say along with us at home!!

Ringing of the Bell

Prelude/Gathering: [SUGGESTED] “The Lord’s My Shepherd,” Harris

** Call to Lent (Excerpt from “what they did yesterday afternoon,” by Warsan Shire)

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?  

it answered

Meditation: [SUGGESTED] “Lord of Life, We Come To You,” John Keys

Word of Confession: Psalm: 51:1-2 & 10-12 (unison):

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.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Silent Confession

Assurance of Pardon: Even before you confessed, even before you said the words, God had already forgiven you.  Rejoice, you are forgiven, now and always. Blessing of the Ashes God, by breath you created us; by covenant you sustained us; by exodus you delivered us, by the cross you loved us; by resurrection you saved us; by the Spirit you comfort us; and by ashes you remind us of the fragility of bodies and the promise of our eternal life in you.  To you, our God in Christ, we give you thanks and praise, and ask for your blessings on these ashes and on us.  Amen.


In your own settings, simply touch your index finger or thumb to the ashes and make a sign of the cross on your forehead.  As you do, you may recite the word below.  If you are with someone else, you may choose to offer ashes to one another.

Say: Remember you are/I am dust, and to dust you/I shall return

Chant: [SUGGESTED] “Come Bring Your Burdens,” S. Afr. Trad., 

Closing Prayer: There are messy ashes and black stains.  There is a thorny invitation to confession, fasting and repentance.  There are whispers of uncomfortable words like, “sin” and “iniquity.”  Don’t be afraid.  For there is also hope and promise.  There is also forgiveness and love.  There is also God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.  There is also grace, upon grace, upon grace.  Welcome to this holy Lent.  AMEN.

Leaving Song: [SUGGESTED] “I Believe,” M. Miller

Benediction (Matthew 6): Dearest ones, as you go into this holy Lent: beware of practicing your piety before others; when giving, do not blow a trumpet and do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing; do not pray for show, but pray for relationship; fast with joy; and always seek the kind of spiritual treasure that does not decay and cannot be stolen.  Go with ashes and hope.  Amen.

© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2021

Kevin Goldenbogen is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving Charlotte Congregational Church in northwestern Vermont. He skis, runs, bakes bread, and tries every day to follow Jesus. He is married to the perfect woman and has two boys who he loves beyond words.

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