Guided Ash Wednesday Liturgy
Close your door and lower any lighting in the room. Close curtains. Turn off lights. We suggest a candle or a dimly lit lamp be the only remaining light. Set aside 20 minutes where you will be uninterrupted.
The Ash Wednesday liturgy is best done with another person. However, if you are alone, you may want to find “ashes.” These could be the residue of a candle wick or dust in your fireplace. You will need these at the end.
Quiet your mind and remove all distractions around you. Notice where you feel tension in your body. Where do you feel stress? Begin at your head and work your way down from your neck all the way to your feet.
Count slowly to 30, completely still and quiet. If a thought comes, acknowledge it. Then set it aside for a moment.
Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith. Begin your meditation time by silently reading these words.
maker of every thing
and judge of all that you have made,
from the dust of the earth you have formed us
and from the dust of death you would raise us up.
By the redemptive power of the cross,
create in us clean hearts
and put within us a new spirit,
that we may repent of our sins
and lead lives worthy of your calling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For a longer and more contemplative experience, you can break here to listen to our Ash Wednesday podcast. Then, return here for step 8. Otherwise, continue following the guidance below.
Pray this prayer aloud.
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth.
Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence,
so that we may remember that only by your gracious gift
are we given everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Take the ashes you’ve found. Put the ash on your thumb and make a cross on your forehead. If you’re alone, you can use a mirror to see your forehead. If you are with someone, ask them to do this for you. As you do, hear these words spoken over you.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Spend time in confession. Take as long as you need. What thoughts do you secretly possess that others may not know? Where have you publicly failed to live into the discipleship to which you have been called? Where, deep in your bones, do you feel that you have not reflected the image of Jesus? You may choose to speak these aloud, silently to yourself, or write them down.
In closing, pray the Lord’s Prayer. In some traditions, this is referred to as the “Our Father.”
Our father in heaven
We pray that your name will always be kept holy
We pray that your Kin-dom will come
That what you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven
Give us the food we need for today
Forgive us our sings, just as we forgive those who have done wrong to us
Don’t let us be tempted but save us from the Evil One.
Now, bring your mind, heart, and body back to the present moment. Give thanks for these few moments. You’re invited to leave the ashes on your forehead throughout the day as a reminder to yourself and others that our lives are not our own and they are temporary. In our brief lifetime, may we confess our sins that we may yet have hope and expectation of life and resurrection.