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‘Let the wasteland

rejoice and bloom’

 

We begin our Lenten journey by having our heads marked with ashes made from the burned palm crosses blessed the year before.

 

Ashes are a sign of our penance, the sorrow for our sins and a commitment to believe the gospel,   praying that the same Spirit who led Jesus into the desert will lead us through Lent.  Marked with a cross of ashes may we come to the tree of glory.

 

We prune our lives of all that is unnecessary:   embracing fasting, that through the fruits of our sacrifice we will bring comfort and aid to others.

 

May the prophecy of Isaiah be true for us: “Let the desert and the dry lands be glad, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it burst into flower, let it rejoice and sing for joy’ (Isaiah 35:1-2)

 

We hope these prayers will offer some help for you in your time of pain and sadness.

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  • Here you will find

  • prayers of comfort and assurance,

  • prayers that help to express anger or hurt or pain,

  • prayers to strengthen and console,

  • prayers, too, for your departed loved one and to commend them to God.

 

May the love of God

and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ

console us

and gently wipe away every tear from our eyes.

And may Almighty God bless us,

the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Lord, in our grief we turn to you.

Are you not the God of love

always ready to hear our cries?

Listen to our prayers for (insert name)

whom you have called out of this world.

Lead him/her to your kingdom of light and peace

and count him/her among your saints in glory.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Prayers of Trust

Gracious Father,

in darkness and light,

in trouble and in joy,

help us to trust your love,

to serve your purpose

and to praise your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen,

 

Merciful Father,

hear our prayers and comfort us;

renew our trust in your Son,

whom you raised from the dead;

strengthen our faith

that (insert name, and) all who have died

in the love of Christ

will share in his resurrection;

who lives and reigns with you, now and forever.  Amen.

 

Prayers of Hurt and Anger

Father,

you know our hurts and share our sorrows.

We are hurt by our parting from (insert name) whom we have loved:

when we are angry at the loss we have sustained,

when we long for words of comfort,

yet find them hard to hear,

turn our grief to truer living,

our affliction to firmer hope

in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Father, the death of (insert name)

brings an emptiness into our lives.

We are separated from him/her

and feel broken and bewildered.

Give us confidence that he/she is safe

and his/her life complete with you,

and bring us together at the last

to the wholeness and fullness of your presence in heaven,

where your saints and angels enjoy you for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

When Lonely or Afraid

Risen Lord Jesus,

draw near to us as we walk this lonely road.

Pierce our weary sorrow

and gladden our heavy hearts as you go with us,

and bring us in the end to your heavenly table.  Amen.

 

Eternal God,

whose Son Jesus Christ said,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”,

take away our fear of death;

bring us to the place that he has gone to prepare for us;

and give us his peace for ever.  Ame

ASH WEDNESDAY

Come to the Water

 

Ash Wednesday Poster

As we begin our Lenten journey we turn to the Lord in a corporate act of penitence, acknowledging our need for his forgiveness and love, his grace and strength.

 

As we set our faces toward the paschal celebration of Christ’s saving death and resurrection, we pray that we may use the season of Lent as a favourable time of preparation, a time of sacrifice and fasting, a time of reconciliation and service of our neighbour, so that reconciled with God and one another, we may embrace the gospel of Christ and rejoice in his Passover Feast.

 

Remember you are dust...

It is a custom, known from as early as the tenth century, that ashes are used as a sign or mark of our repentance: a physical, symbolic gesture of sorrow for our sins and our need for God’s loving forgiveness.  The ashes used today come from the branches blessed the preceding year for Palm Sunday.

 

We believe, don’t we, that we are destined to live with God for ever?  So what’s all this about death and mortality, dust and ashes?  The hard fact, of course, is that all of us will die someday.  We can’t escape that.  We are, in that sense, mortal beings.  But there is more to it than that.  Sometimes, we live as if we are gods, we live without a care for others or without a care for God himself.  We can so easily forget about our life with God.  Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are human after all and that, without him, we are nothing.

 

In the Bible, when people turn away from sin there is that mention of ‘sackcloth and ashes. ’ Ashes are a sign of penitence and purification.  It may seem a rather absurd thing to do—to place ashes on our head.  Most people would prefer to apply some kind of substance that beautifies or makes us look younger! The ashes remind us both of the ugliness of sin, and is a commitment to the gospel of Christ.

 

Forty Day Fast

When Lent first began to emerge as a devotional preparation for Easter for all, rather than simply for those preparing for Christian Initiation, its length was somewhat variable but six weeks appears to have been the general rule from the fourth century onwards.  There was a desire, however, to keep a strict 40 days as a fast and, since Sunday is never considered a fast day, Lent was extended to include four days prior to the first Sunday of Lent (a day known as quadragesima) and therefore started on Ash Wednesday.

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The ash used during the liturgy for Ash Wednesday comes from the burned remains

of last year's palm crosses

"Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return"