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Holy Communion for Ash Wednesday

Meeting ID: 817 0074 1316

Passcode: 581443

Welcome to our Service for Ash Wednesday.

Grace, mercy and peace

from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ

be with you

and also with you.

Light your candle

Brothers and sisters in Christ, since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection and prepared for this by a season of penitence and fasting.


By carefully keeping these days, Christians take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us

The Collect

Holy God,

our lives are laid open before you:

rescue us from the chaos of sin

and through the death of your Son

bring us healing and make us whole

in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Old Testament Reading Joel 2:12-17

12 “But even now,” says the Lord, “repent sincerely and return to me with fasting and weeping and mourning. 13 Let your broken heart show your sorrow; tearing your clothes is not enough.”

Come back to the Lord your God. He is kind and full of mercy; he is patient and keeps his promise; he is always ready to forgive and not punish. 14 Perhaps the Lord your God will change his mind and bless you with abundant crops. Then you can offer him grain and wine.

15 Blow the trumpet on Mount Zion; give orders for a fast and call an assembly! 16 Gather the people together; prepare them for a sacred meeting; bring the old people; gather the children and the babies too. Even newly married couples must leave their homes and come. 17 The priests, serving the Lord between the altar and the entrance of the Temple, must weep and pray: “Have pity on your people, Lord. Do not let other nations despise us and mock us by saying, ‘Where is your God?’”

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Gospel Reading: John 8:1-11

Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory.

The Lord is a great God, O that today you would listen to his voice.

Harden not your hearts.

Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory.

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

Glory to you, O Lord.

8 Then everyone went home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early the next morning he went back to the Temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 In our Law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?” 6 They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him. But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 As they stood there asking him questions, he straightened up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.” 8 Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there. 10 He straightened up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she answered.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.


The hustle and bustle of the temple’s courts; the stalls selling animals for sacrifice were back and some of the money changers. Noise and dust, chatter and early morning sunshine; people start to gather round; what’s the news? Jesus is here- who is this man and what’s he got to say…

Some are genuinely intrigued; curious, hearts open to see if this is God; others just nosey; others frankly suspicious and cynical; and some deeply opposed. More than cycnical, minds are made up

Who does this man think he is?

Can we catch him out?

Elsewhere…There’s a rumour flying round. It’s that woman- they had been watching her and know they’ve got an opportunity. A curtain twitches; a shadow moves across a doorway. It’s her- and she shouldn’t be there- with him. They certainly shouldn’t be doing that – it’s sinful!

Voices shout, doors open, furniture crashes over – they grab her and drag her out.

What an opportunity- not only have the sinners got caught in the act but now that other trouble maker- that Jesus can be put to the test.

What’s he going to say about this?

In the Temple court, a distance hum becomes a commotion and a dusty noisy self righteous crowd coming running screaming, dragging yelling – everyone stops; stares. They arrive and fling her to the ground in front of him.

We caught her- breathless voices shout. We caught her. What d’you think? Stones? Here? Now?

Jesus breathes deeply and fixes his gaze on the dust at his feet.

He doesn’t look up; he doesn’t appear to see or hear them. The yelling does on- Well? Well? What d’you think?

Eventually he looks up; looks straight at them (not her), looks at them.

“Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her”

Who hasn’t done something, some little thing wrong. The yelling does down; the muttering rumbles round. Not one thing wrong; not one sin. It would be foolish to speak up- someone else would definitely pull you down. Not going to risk the humiliation of being put right.

Someone at the back slips away; then another and another. The younger angrier ones keep staring at him, at her in defiance. They look round- they’re the only ones left. Better go now rather than be the last man standing. The last one self consciously slips away.

She gets to her feet.

Jesus looks up. Looks at her. She shivers- will the judgement now fall?

Where are they? Is no-one left?

No, no sir she mutters.

Then go, Jesus says, no condemnation but a warning. Do not sin again.

Lots of wrongs, a few rights in this story.

Chief amongst the problems are those who condemn other people without looking to themselves.

Joel says:

repent sincerely and return to me with fasting and weeping and mourning. 13 Let your broken heart show your sorrow; tearing your clothes is not enough.”

Come back to the Lord your God. He is kind and full of mercy; he is patient and keeps his promise; he is always ready to forgive and not punish.

Come back to God sincerely. It’s not about what other people do; it’s about ourselves, myself. Not with an outward show to impress others but from my heart to my God whose heart is open to me.


Blow out candle

Let us now call to mind our sin and the infinite mercy of God.

God the Father,

have mercy on us.

God the Son,

have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,

have mercy on us.

Trinity of love,

have mercy on us.

Most merciful God,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned

in thought, word and deed.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

Lord, have mercy.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.

We have not been true to the mind of Christ.

We have grieved your Holy Spirit.

Lord, have mercy.

We confess to you, Lord …

all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy and impatience of our lives.

Lord, have mercy.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people.

Lord, have mercy.

Our anger at our own frustration

and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.

Lord, have mercy.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts

and our dishonesty in daily life and work.

Lord, have mercy.

Our negligence in prayer and worship

and our failure to commend the faith that is in us.

Lord, have mercy.

Accept our repentance, Lord …

for the wrongs we have done,

for our blindness to human need and suffering,

and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.

Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgements,

for uncharitable thoughts towards our neighbours

and for our prejudice and contempt towards those who differ from us.

Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation

and our lack of concern for those who come after us.

Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us.

Favourably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,

that we may show your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,

bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Silence is kept.

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy

forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are,

and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly,

love mercy,

and walk humbly with you, our God.


Mark yourself on your forehead with the ash from your candle

I invite you to receive your ashes

as a sign of the spirit of penitence with which we shall keep this season of Lent.

God our Father,

you create us from the dust of the earth:

grant that these ashes may be for us

a sign of our penitence

and a symbol of our mortality;

for it is by your grace alone

that we receive eternal life

in Jesus Christ our Saviour.


Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

The Lord enrich you with his grace,

and nourish you with his blessing;

the Lord defend you in trouble and keep you from all evil;

the Lord accept your prayers,

and absolve you from your offences,

for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.


The Peace

Since we are justified by faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has given us access to his grace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you

and also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

Holy Communion

The Lord is here

His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

And now we give you thanks

because you give us the spirit of discipline,

that we may triumph over evil and grow in grace,

as we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery

with mind and heart renewed.

When we turned away

you did not reject us,

but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children

and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life

that we might live in him and he in us.

He opened his arms of love upon the cross and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,

at supper with his friends

he took bread, and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to them, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine, he gave you thanks, and said:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins; do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,

send your Holy Spirit

that this bread and this wine

may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts

make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world, we offer you this sacrifice of praise

and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours

now and for ever.


We break this bread

to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,

because we all share in one bread.

Jesus, Lamb of God,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.

Prayer of Spiritual Communion

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits you have given me,

for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,

I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.

O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,

may I know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen

This is love, not that we loved God,

but that he loved us and sent his Son.

He is the sacrifice for our sins,

that we might live through him.

If God loves us so much

we ought to love one another.

If we love one another

God lives in us.

Christ give you grace to grow in holiness,

to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow him;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.

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