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Ash Wednesday

February 6, 2008 – 8:00pm

God has given us the power to change our ways.
God has given us the power to change our ways.
Feed the hungry, loose the bound.
Walk humbly with our God.
–Mechtild of Magdeburg

Enter in Silence

Meditative Prayer (in silence)    written by Ted Loder

O God,
calm me into a quietness
   that heals
   and listens,
and molds my longings
and passions
   my wounds
      and wonderings
into a more holy
      and human shape.  Amen.

Call to Worship

One:    After John’s arrest, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God saying, “The time has come at last — God’s reign has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good news.”  (Mark 1:14-15)
All:    We must change our hearts and minds.

East:    While he was walking by the lake of Galilee Jesus saw two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, casting their large nets into the water. They fished for a living, so Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will teach you to be fishers of people.” At once they left their nets and followed.   (Matthew 4:18-20)
West:    God calls—and we follow. At least we try to follow!
East:    Trouble is, God is always out ahead of us, moving faster than we do.
West:    Lent is a time for deciding to follow God, a time for re-turning to God’s path, a time to take the inward journey.
East:    Tonight, we can lay down some of the heavy load we carry.
West:    Tonight, we can fall again under the spell of God’s love.

Hymn    “Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days”    No. 269
(v. 1, 4, & 5)

Psalm 90:1-12

One:    O God, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
All:    You turn people back to the dust, and say, “Turn back, O humans!”
    For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
One:    You sweep people away; they are like a dream.
All:    like grass which is renewed in the morning;
One:         in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
All:          in the evening it fades and withers.
One:         For we are consumed by your anger;
All:           by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
One:          You have set our iniquities before you,
All:          our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
One:          For all our days pass away under your design,
All:          our years come to an end like a sigh.
One:          The years of our life are threescore and ten,
    or even by reason of strength fourscore;
All:           yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
One:          Who considers the power of your ways,
All:          and your wrath according to the fear of you?
One:         So teach us to number our days
All:          that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Excerpt from Interview with Bono, Time Magazine (March 4, 2002)

The meeting breaks up when Bono leaves for a photo shoot. Driving across Los Angeles, he discusses [a] notion of a melody line. "What we’re all on about is: Africa. Seventy percent of the problem of HIV/AIDS is in Africa. We’re talking about the continent bursting into flames while we stand around with watering cans. That’s our one idea. But the closer you get to the policymakers, you need specificity, and you need to know what you’re talking about. I’d go in and talk about debt relief, debt relief, debt relief, and people would say, ‘But that’s only part of the picture here.’"

At 41, Bono says, he has given up on music as a political force. He believes his work negotiating in political back rooms is more vital and effective than singing in sold-out stadiums. "Poetry makes nothing happen," the poet W.H. Auden once wrote, and Bono wistfully agrees. "I’m tired of dreaming. I’m into doing at the moment. It’s, like, let’s only have goals that we can go after. U2 is about the impossible. Politics is the art of the possible. They’re very different, and I’m resigned to that now. Music’s the thing that stopped me from falling asleep in the comfort of my freedom. I learned about South America from listening to the Clash. I learned about Situationism from the Sex Pistols. But that’s a long way from budget caps and dealing with a Congress that is suspicious of aid because it has been so misused."
Music does make a difference in one way; it sways people emotionally. But for Bono that is no longer enough: "When you sing, you make people vulnerable to change in their lives. You make yourself vulnerable to change in your life. But in the end, you’ve got to become the change you want to see in the world. I’m actually not a very good example of that–I’m too selfish, and the right to be ridiculous is something I hold too dear–but still, I know it’s true."

Song                        “Yahweh”         U2 (Bono & the Edge), 2004
Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this he
And make it break

Reflections    by Sid Hall

Song of Thanksgiving     tune: No. 545

Refreshed by living waters, renewed by living bread,
May we, your sons and daughters, by your own hand be led.
Accept the love we offer; receive the lives we owe.
Unite us in your service; may seeds of justice grow!


Doxology          tune: No. 95

Praise God the Source of life and birth.
Praise God the Word who comes to earth.
Praise God the Spirit, holy flame.
All glory, honor to God’s name!  Amen.

The Ashes of Forgiveness

One:       Ashes are a symbol of purification. As a fire burns, it can separate what is valuable from what is valueless, just as an assayer’s fire can separate a base metal from one that is precious. In this same way, these ashes are pure. They are a symbol of the new space that is now present within us for a new life. Let us claim the new life God offers us by praying to our God:
All:     God of love and mercy, we come to you in prayer, seeking to change our hearts and minds. We confess the baggage of idols, bitterness, and the self-concern that we so often drag along with us, struggling under its weight all the while we attempt to follow you. Cleanse us from our attachment to these old things. Burn away their power in us and purify our hearts. In place of old ways fill us with the new fire of your Holy Spirit. Open up new opportunities for us to follow Jesus in loving you and our neighbors. In Jesus’ name we ask these things.  Amen.
One:       Friends, receive the good news of our faith, for in the name of God, I announce our sins are forgiven. The old has died. Behold, the new has come!

Those who wish to may now come forward and receive the markof these ashes as a sign of forgiveness and new life. Participants come up the center aisle to the front. One by one, the clergyperson marks a cross on their foreheads using his or her thumb. As the cross is made, she or he says to each person, “The old has died. The new has come.”

Closing Hymn     “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian”     No. 402

Benediction    adapted from Elizabeth Rice, No Longer Strangers & Bono Interview

One:    Anoint us to be a people of your Good News,
        yoked to break yokes,
        sighted to bring sight,
        healed to be healers,
        struggling to bring release.
All:         Shower us and comfort us in the shining light
        and darkness of your glorious mystery,
        We invoke your mystery, not ours.
        We invoke your clarity, not ours.
        We invoke your truth, not ours.
One:        Spirit of God,
        cry out through the cosmos, cry out through us.
All:         Make your justice our work.
               Make your love real through our lives.
               Take our hearts and make them break.
               Help us become the change we want to see in the world. 

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