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

Prayer Station- Letting Go

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Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

This prayer station was designed for the opening night of a women’s retreat. The opening night theme was “Let it go.” It could be used in many other settings as well.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <><

Prayer Station Instructions

Mark 6:31
Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Practice…

  • Turn off your phone and leave it in the basket. It will be returned to you at the end of the day.
  • Take off your watch, your Fitbit, or anything else you might carry to measure yourself and measure time. Leave it in the basket. It will be returned to you at the end of the day.
  •  Write
    •  Use the paper and pen to write your to-do list. Write down the things you “should” have done, things you are missing in order to be here, things still to be done
    • Write down the burdens you are carrying
    • Write down your worries, your concerns
    • When finished, fold the paper and write your name on the outside
    • Leave it in the basket as you entrust it to Jesus for the time we are together.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer Station Symbols

  • Blue, patterned tablecloth, small white dove, earthen water jar representing the refreshing living waters of God the Holy Spirit
  • Icon of Jesus offering a blessing known as Christ Pantocrator
  • Wooden statue of Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying a lamb.
    • He will feed His fold like a shepherd; He will gather together His lambs—the weak and the wobbly ones—into His arms. He will carry them close to His bosom, and tenderly lead like a shepherd the mother of her lambs. Isaiah 40:11 The Voice Bible
  • Framed copy of Psalm 23.
    • The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name. Psalm 23:1-3 The Voice Bible
  • Candle representing the Light of Christ and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
  • Green plant representing the hope and promise of new life and growth
  • Paper and pens for the writing project
  • Three baskets- one for phones, one for watches and Fitbits, one for the writing project

Click Here for the printout of the instructions for the prayer station

Prayer Station- Sandbox Confession

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

This prayer station was designed for the opening night of a women’s retreat. The opening night theme was “Let it go.” It could be used in many other settings as well.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <><

Prayer Station Instructions
Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Practice…
• Think about a concern, regret, burden, or sin. Sum it up in one word.
• Write that word in the sand. Take your time.
• Stay with the word for a moment.
• Wipe the word away, accepting the healing, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus.
• Repeat as needed with other situations and words.
• Take your time. Stay as long as you need.

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.

Prayer Station Symbols

  • Red, patterned tablecloth, empty cross, and victorious Christ statue representing the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection
  • Icon of Jesus healing the man born blind
  • IHS monogram and Chi-Rho monogram, ancient representation of Christ’s name. As Christians we call on the name of Jesus to save us, forgive us, and heal us.
  • Candle representing the Light of Christ and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
  • Green plant representing the hope and promise of new life and growth
  • Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery and Stone. When we are honest with ourselves, when we claim our universal need of forgiveness and the universal offer of forgiveness in Jesus, we lay down our stones of condemnation and death.
  • Shell, ancient symbol of baptism. We are named and claimed by God in our baptisms.
  • Sand
    • From dust we are formed and to dust we shall return. (Ecclesiastes 3:20)
      • We are all in the same situation. We are all in need of God’s saving power and love.
    • As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)
    • Jesus writing in the sand when wisely, truthfully, and compassionately answering the accusations against the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:2-11)
      • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Click Here for the printout of the instructions for the prayer station
Click Here for the printout of the story of Jesus writing in the sand, the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11)

Prayer Station- Crown of Thorns

crown of thorns

Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <>< 

Items Needed

  • small grapevine wreath, approximately 6 inches across
  • wooden toothpicks. You could tea dye them if you wanted them to better match the wreath.
  • Scripture with instructions

Matthew 27:27-31 NRSV
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Below you will find several options. Choose one or create one of your own. Whatever you choose, read the scripture first and then pray through the prescribed actions. If you’re writing your own option, be sure to be clear what the gesture represents and what the prop represents.

Option 1- The soldiers mocked Jesus without mercy. He understands our pain. Place toothpicks in the wreath for people or groups of people who are bullied, verbally abused, and stereotyped. Be specific. Remove the toothpicks as you pray healing and new life for the victims and their abusers.

Option 2- The soldiers mocked Jesus without mercy. He was brutally bullied. Place toothpicks in the wreath as you think about instances when you have been the bully and when you have been bullied. Remove the toothpicks as you ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. When the wreath is empty, hold it in your hands as you accept God’s gift of new life and pray for an end to all bullying.

Option 3- Place toothpicks in the wreath as you confess your sins. Remove the toothpicks as you ask God to forgive you in Jesus’ Name. When the wreath is empty, hold it in your hands and claim the Good News of 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Option 4- Place toothpicks in the wreath as you name the various ways Jesus suffered. When complete, spend a few moments in wonder and worship at the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice and love. When you are finished, remove the toothpicks to reset the station for the next person.

Option 5- Supply a recording of a song or a person reading the lyrics of a song or a poem. Below are some suggestions. Persons place toothpicks in the wreath as they listen to the recording. When finished, the toothpicks are removed to reset the station for the next person. Here are some suggestions-

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Prayer Station- Crown of Thorns by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this service with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

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

Ash Wednesday Worship Resources and Sermon Starters

ash wedensday with palmsModern 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. 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

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 4

photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 4a: Remember and Represent
Station 4b: Renew

The Setting
One half of a medium sized room with medium lighting. (Stations 3 and 4 can share the same room)  A white bed sheet or cloth is pinned to a wall. Instructions for station 4a are placed on a music stand a few feet from the wall so people encounter them as they approach the station. A bowl of water and a bowl of ashes are placed on a small table to the right of the white cloth. (Due to the amount of ashes needed for this exercise, we used ashes from a fireplace for this station rather than ashes made to be placed on a person’s forehead for Ash Wednesday.) Baby wipes and instructions for station 4b are placed on a small table to the left of the white cloth. A trash can is placed near this table.

The Experience
1. Persons read the following and perform the action for station 4a: For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) Remember Who created you and what you were created for. By placing your hands into the water and then into the ash and then onto the wall, you are affirming your desire to join Jesus in bringing hope, salvation and new life to the world.

2. Persons read the following and perform the action for station 4b: Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:22-24 NIV) You’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:11 The Message) As you clean your hands before exiting, thank God for this fresh start and invite Jesus to use your hands for good works.

My Experience
Confession and forgiveness, prayer and worship, growth and illumination. The journey with Christ naturally makes its way to joining Jesus in his mission. As I placed my ashy hands on the cloth, I remembered how eager Jesus was to get his hands dirty in saving work: the sawdust of honest labor as a carpenter, the rags of desperate lepers, the linen and spices of dead sons, the bread and fish of a miraculous meal, the salty spray when lifting Peter from drowning, the mud pie to make a blind man see.

I see Jesus smiling with a child-like delight while making the mud pies. (John 9:1-41) Our God is holy, pure. Yet God is willing to come down to our level, to be hands on, personal and intimate (how intimate is spit!), to get messy and dirty so we might be whole. Jesus making mud reminds me of Genesis 2 where God makes Adam (a whole person) out of mud and breathes life into him. (Adam literally means earth man or mud man.) Coming to faith requires remembering we are mortal/dust and in need of God’s eternal love and salvation. Embodying that faith means remembering those around us are also mortal/dust and sharing what we have found with them.

Jesus is willing to touch our lives, even though they are messy, oozing, and soiled. Am I as willing? As eager?

May the Blessed One
Open our lips in blessing
For words have the power to create or destroy
May the Blessed One
Open our hands in blessing
For actions have the power to heal or to wound
May the Blessed One
Open our hearts in blessing
That the grace poured in by Christ
Would overflow
To all, in all and through all

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This station is the fourth of four 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 recommitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 1
Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 2
Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 3

© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. 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 scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.