On Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 7:00pm we’ll be having an Ash Wednesday Service at CBC. If you’ve never been to one, you might be wondering: What will be happening at this service? This is a little article of what you can expect and how you can prepare.
Ambience – you’ll come into a slightly darker Worship Center. The lights will be low. In place of house lights, you’ll see many candles lit. The music playing in the background will be softer and more reflective than our typical worship service. We want to have an atmosphere that helps us to be reflective about the journey of Christ to the Cross.
Worship in Song – we will begin and end our service with singing worship to God. We’ll be singing songs that we normally sing at CBC, with more of an emphasis on Jesus and what it means to follow him.
Kids – we will have childcare for the children birth to 5-years-old. After we sing a few songs, the elementary age children have the option to leave for special programming, or they are welcome to stay. Just know that there will be a lot of reading during the adult service that might be boring to the younger grades. The children will return toward the end of the service (after the Ash ceremony) for the final worship songs. Teenagers are welcome to stay in the Worship Center for the entire service.
Liturgy – Most of the service will consist of readings from a traditional Ash Wednesday liturgy. These are readings that are either directly from or based on Scripture. Some of the readings will have a congregational reply. You will be given a program so you can follow along. We’ll go through the readings slowly so that the meaning of the texts can sink in.
Sermon – there will be a short sermon called a “homily.” This message will focus on what it means to follow Jesus by dying to our selves (our ways of doing things).
Repentance – part of the liturgy is called a “Litany of Penance.” This is where we make declarations of repentance; of our turning from our own ways to follow the ways of Christ. It’s very thorough and thought-provoking. It can be one of the most moving parts of the service.
Receiving of the Ashes – the ashes come from palm branches. This is an optional participation, totally voluntary. Basically, you come forward to one of our pastors. The ashes represent two things: first, to declare our finite-ness (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust”). We are not God; we are his creation. We are fragile. We are limited. Second, to declare our repentance and mourn our sin. In Biblical times, people repented and mourned by wearing sackcloth and throwing ash on themselves. The pastor will say something like, “Repent and be faithful to God and the Gospel.” And then with the ash, they will make a sign of the cross on your forehead – symbolizing your identification with Christ and your commitment to follow him.
Sharing and Prayer in small groups – this is also optional, as you can choose to continue in silent reflection. But if you like, you are encouraged to join others (or with your family – kids will be coming back at this time) to share what this time meant for you and to pray for each other as we begin our journey through Lent to Resurrection Sunday (aka “Easter”).
So that’s it in a nutshell. It’s a little different than our typical service, but it’s totally in CBC style: heartfelt, Biblical, and authentic. So come with an open heart. Come with an expectant heart. Come with a sincere heart.
We hope to see you there.