Ash Wednesday Worship Resources and Sermon Starters

ash wedensday with palms

Repent and Return
This confession was inspired by a passage from Pauses for Lent by Trevor Hudson and the traditional Ash Wednesday reading from Joel 2.

Modern Ash Wednesday Service
A simple, fresh combination of modern visuals, ancient scripture, the imposition of ashes, and the haunting song O So So.

Blended Ash Wednesday Service
Classic scriptures, hymns, and the imposition of ashes come alongside music by Chris Tomlin and Gungor.

Ash Wednesday: The Terrible, Marvelous Dust
Jan Richardson offers a beautiful and grace-filled perspective on God at work in us and our world. The post includes an original work of art and blessing.

Dust and Ashes
Steve Garnaas-Holmes offers reflection and prayer on the many meanings of the imposition of ashes.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective
A reflection based on a parable by the well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi Simcha Bunim. “Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’ In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Lenten Art: Reflecting Dust
A multimedia piece to inspire the creation of your own works of art for the season of Lent

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
A set of four interactive prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could, of course, be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and re-commitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.
Prayer Station 1
Prayer Station 2
Prayer Station 3
Prayer Station 4

Prayers for a New Year

huge clock

Please let me know the artist of this piece that I may give him/her credit.

Prayer at Year’s End by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Eternal God,
in the evening of this year
I release the year to you.
Not a day, not a breath, have I been without you,
and I thank you.
All that I have done is done;
what I have not done I have not done.
All of my sins and errors you have forgiven,
and I release them.
All of my triumphs are your doing,
and I release them.
The year is gathered into your harvest,
to winnow and to save.
My life is gathered into your grace.
By your spirit in me may I learn from my mistakes,
grow from my wounds,
and deepen in gratitude for my gifts.
And now I turn to a new year,
grateful for your presence and your grace,
seeking only to live in harmony with your delight,
and open to your blessing and your leading.
Whether my journey onward be long or short,
it shall be in you, and I rejoice.
Amen.

Gratitude for a New Year by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
For the blessings of today
which remind us of the blessings of the past
which point forward to the blessings still to come
we give you thanks

Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
ONE:
Eternal and Immortal One,
You have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born,
Before the earth and the world came to birth,
From eternity to eternity,
You are God.

ALL:
To you, a thousand years are like a yesterday
Like a watch of the night

ONE:
You return us to dust
You sweep us away like a dream
We are like grass
In the morning we thrive,
We blossom
But come evening,
We are withered and dry

ALL:
Teach us to number our days
That we may gain your wise heart

Fill us with your faithful love
That we may sing your joyful story

Show us your wondrous deeds
That we may see your transforming power
That generations to come may see it as well

Let your favor, O God be upon us,
That the work of our hands
May bear forth your blessing
And bring your glory. Amen.

penitence by larry poncho brown

Penitence by Larry Poncho Brown

Prayer of Confession for a New Year
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

As the new year is born,
We remember and regret…

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we keep You at a distance
When we defy your bidding
When we make it harder
for people to know you

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we deny our weakness
When we wallow in our weakness
When we take advantage
of the weakness of others

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we refuse Your counsel
When we waste your gifts
When we withhold Your compassion from others

Silent Confession

As the new year is born
We labor to look forward
Our hearts fill with hope
For you are making all things new
even us… Amen

A New Year’s Blessing by Steve Garnaas Holmes
My hope and prayer and confidence
is that in this new year
God will be lovingly present for you,
and you will more and more deeply trust
God’s delight in you.
Christ will lead you every step of the new year.
The Spirit’s gifts will unfold in you in new ways.
I rejoice that in this new year
beauty will surround you; grace will enfold you;
love will embrace and uphold you;
joy will bless you, and hope sustain you.
May you receive healing and wisdom;
may your creativity flower and your courage grow;
and in your hands may justice and mercy flourish.
I rejoice that these gifts await you in the new year,
and pray that you receive them with delight.
I give thanks for the gift of sharing together
the journey of this new year.
God bless us all.

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Click Here for a collection of quotes entitled Counting Our Days

Gratitude for a New Year © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer of Confession for the New Year © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use these prayers in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish them in any form

Satisfying and Silencing: A Reflection and Prayer for Thanksgiving based on Psalm 65

silent sea psalm 65-7 b

Psalm 65:4b, 7 NRSV
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
Your holy temple…
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.

When I first read Psalm 65, I was reminded of Thanksgiving. Verses 9-13 praise the bounty of God, the Lord of the Harvest, who provides water, flocks, and grain in abundance. This generous provision is a needed blessing for any community, but especially in a difficult environment like the desert.

When I reread the psalm, I was drawn to verse 7, especially the phrase “You silence… the tumult of the peoples.” Provision of food and water is a way God silences the desperate cries of deep need. It is worthy of thanks all on its own, yet there is more to praise. There is always more to praise. God goes deeper and further in satisfying and silencing because that’s God’s being, God’s desiring. God goes beyond “give us this day, our daily bread” to meet the needs of body and soul and community.

Praise is indeed due you, O God, for you…

  • answer prayer (vs. 2) so we are not left alone in the monkey brain, the incessant inner monologue of our questioning and worry.
  • forgive our sins (vs. 3) so we are not abandoned to the mayhem of twisted choices and broken relationships.
  • provide us a home in your family (vs. 4) so we are not overwhelmed by crushing waves of isolation. We so need the companionship and support of others, especially the wise and faithful.
  • deliver us, the deepest of need, so we are not left despairing and hopeless in the chaos of trying to save ourselves.

Prayer based on Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, Generous God,
We commit ourselves to you alone
For you answer prayer and welcome all who seek you
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all competing and false voices
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

When sin and pain overwhelm us, you forgive and heal
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the chaos and destruction
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

Bring us near. Raise a song in our hearts.
A shout of praise and thanksgiving in your sanctuary.
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all apathy and skepticism
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

By awesome deeds, you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
You are the hope of all the ends of the earth
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence prejudice, suspicion, and hate
Silence the guns of war and the rhetoric of terror
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it
You provide the people with grain, Great God of Abundance
Raise up a shout and a song of joy across the whole world
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the cries of hunger and need
Silence the cries of injustice and despair
O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.

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Satisfying and Silencing, reflection and prayer © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information on publishing this work in any form.

Your Eternal Goodness, a prayer of thanksgiving and praise based on Psalm 65

give-thanks

Based on Psalm 65

Praise is due you, Great and Generous God
For you provide abundantly

You answer prayer, desiring an ever growing relationship with us.
Who are we that you mindful to our experiences and needs?

You forgive our sins and draw us near, close to your heart and holiness.

You deliver us from slavery to sin and death and self.
You make a way for us in the wilderness of this life,
a way that leads us home to you.
You are with us and we are with you, now and forever.
Hallelujah!

You are the light and the hope of us all.

You are mighty. You are strong.
You are awesome. You are glorious.
You are worthy of every and all praise.

You provide from the richness of your love- far beyond water and food.
Your saving bounty for all- such wonder, such blessing!
Hallelujah!

We join creation in song and celebration of your eternal goodness
Hallelujah!

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Your Eternal Goodness © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

All Saints Remembrance


I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
– Nelson Mandela

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NRSV
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

The followers of Jesus in Corinth had some serious problems, infighting and immorality to name a couple, yet Paul calls them saints. A saint is not a perfect person. Saints are simply persons who know their deep need of God- they know they’re sinners- yet they haven’t stayed there. They’ve placed their trust in the marvelous grace, forgiveness, and healing of God through Jesus Christ.

If you love and follow Jesus, you are a saint.

And so my brothers and sisters
Let us remember who we are in Jesus- saints set apart by God and for God
Let us remember our purpose- to lead a devoted life
– A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
– A life which inspires faith in others
– A life ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
– The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
– The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
– And especially those who we have known and loved who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Raise your voices and speak their names now …

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You surround us with witness after witness to your transforming love
Inspire us and empower us to persevere
Fill our hearts with courage

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You weep with us in our heartbreak and loss
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You cry out in victory over sin and the grave
Raise us and release us to fulfill your calling
Fill our lives with faithfulness and good works

Persons are invited forward to choose a flower, place the flower on the cross, and pray at the communion rail. 

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All Saints Remembrance © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Labor Day

The Carpenter by Nathan Greene

A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving.
– Albert Einstein

An extended quote from All for Jesus
by Charles Spurgeon
To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred.

He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him.

He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament.

He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice.

He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.

To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel…

Peter saw a sheet let down from heaven in which were all manner of beasts and four-footed creatures, which he was bidden to kill and eat, and when he refused because they were unclean, he was rebuked by a voice from heaven, saying, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common” [Acts 10:15; 11:9].

The Lord hath cleansed your houses, he has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables… He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar – if you know what you are and live according to your high calling.

You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live.

The sacred has absorbed the secular.

Prayer for Labor Day
VOICE ONE: Almighty God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, you declared your work good and so do we. Empower us to continue your good work through the labor of our minds and hands.

VOICE TWO: This Labor Day Weekend, pour out again your blessing and strength on all who work. On those who make it possible for us to have food on our tables:
Farm workers, truckers, grocers, cooks, and restaurant employees
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work to keep us healthy:
Doctors, nurses, technicians, researchers, and medical manufacturers
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who inspire us and lead us to greater good:
Inventors, explorers, religious leaders, teachers, writers, artists, and mentors
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who facilitate needed products and services:
Office workers, managers, and administrators
Retail workers, bankers, lawyers, politicians and accountants
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who make our lives easier and safer by the sweat of their brow:
Warehouse workers, construction workers, janitors and sanitation workers
Police officers, fire fighters, and those who serve in the armed forces
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work with the poor, the abused,
the dangerous and the dying
Social workers, counselors, and therapists
Hospice workers and corrections officers
Those who work in shelters, soup kitchens, and halfway houses
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: Gracious God, help all workers, especially those in authority over other workers, to carry themselves with honor and integrity. Keep them safe from harm and injustice. Provide the opportunities, benefits and pay needed to sustain them and their loved ones.

Those who are looking for employment are invited to stand. Persons may also stand on behalf of a friend or loved one who is looking for employment. Those seated around them lay a hand of blessing and support on them for the remainder of the prayer.

VOICE ONE: Strong and Merciful One, we also commend to your blessing and care those who are unemployed or underemployed. Guard them against discouragement and discrimination. Relieve them of worry and anxiety. Meet their needs for hearth and home and health. Come quickly with a fulfilling job with a trustworthy employer.

VOICE TWO: God of Life, deliver us and all people from greed, corruption, and predatory business practices. Open eyes to sustainable and just solutions so workers of all nations will mutually prosper. Lead us as we work, so nothing we do is for self alone, but for the common good and for your glory.

VOICE ONE: We ask all this in the strong name of Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, the Rabbi of Galilee, who taught us to pray

Close with all praying the Lord’s Prayer

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Click here for an excellent Labor Day Prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

Click here, for more information on the beautiful work of today’s featured artist, Nathan Greene

Prayer for Labor Day © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this prayer in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayers for the Start of the School Year

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Would you join me in praying for educators and students as they start a new school year? Below you’ll find a few prayers for your quiet time. Pick a few to pray each day between now and the end of the month. The prayers are inpired by a resource called Keys to the Kingdom by Prayer Point Press. May you and your community be blessed and growing in the wonder of God’s good earth and the hope of Rabbi Jesus. Lisa <><

Covering our Community in Prayer
August Emphasis: Education

Comforting One, bring peace to all those who are feeling anxious about the first days of school. Fill them with confidence and encouragement. Amen.

Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Open the windows of heaven on each school in our community. Supply what they need. Help students, teachers, and administrators to use your gifts to bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, reveal your wisdom in every teaching moment. Draw students to you as they study the wonders of your world. May your truth be evident and rise above false voices. Amen.

Gracious God, thank you for those who serve as administrative assistants, food preparers, and maintenance workers. Their example inspires us to serve others with love and humility just as Jesus did. Show us how to do all things, big or small, as unto you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Companion and Counselor, reveal yourself to school social workers and guidance counselors, especially when they are working with students. Give them supernatural wisdom and insight. Use them to enlighten, encourage, and confirm your purpose in young lives. Amen.

Jesus our Savior, raise up Godly role models in our schools. Give them courage to live both humbly and boldly for you. Empower them to be wholesome examples in speech, life, faith, and purity. Let their light shine for you. Amen.

Creative One, thank you for those who sacrifice their time to help with extracurricular activities. Bless them with joy and enthusiasm. Help them see good and lasting fruit from their labor. Amen.

Loving God, your joy is our strength. Fill classrooms and administrative offices with delight and hope. Help educators, students and parents to see you at work and to give you glory. Replace fatigue, frustration, and fear with joy. Amen.

Welcoming One, help every student to feel that they belong- that they are precious and important to others and to you. Protect them from teasing, isolation, bullying, discrimination, and despair. Fill them with truth and hope. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guardian, thank you for bus drivers, crossing guards, and police officers who work so hard to keep students safe. Protect students as they travel to and from school, field trips, and other events. Place an extra hand of protection on student drivers. Amen.

Prince of Peace, cover every school campus with your shalom. Make them safe sanctuaries of learning and growth. Guard hearts, minds, and bodies against every type of evil. Bring an end to bullying, abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and violence. Build bridges across dividing lines. Amen.

Heavenly Father, give young people a healthy attitude toward competition and achievement. Keep them from unhealthy pride, perfectionism, and from making success an idol. Amen.

Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Show students the way out when they are tempted. Keep them far from pressures which tempt them to cheat in order to get ahead. Keep them far from compromising integrity or purity in order to fit in. Give them a strong No! to sin and a resounding Yes! to wholeness and holiness. Amen.

God of the nations, thank you for the great gift of education. Thank you for making us a thinking people and for the blessings of curiosity and discovery. Bless and help developing nations to provide education for their people. Help us never to take education for granted. Amen.

Loving God, bless every home in our community.
Bring peace where there is anxiety.
Provision where there is need
Wisdom where there is confusion
Understanding where there is anger
Freedom where there is addiction
Recovery where there is illness
Reconciliation where there is division
Shalom where there is brutality
Unity where there is prejudice
Hope where there is despair
Faith where there is none

Thank you for your help and healing power
Thank you for your presence and salvation
We need you Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Amen.