Click here for our latest worship service video!

Ash Wednesday 2021

February 17, 2021

First Congregational Church of Guilford Worship
Ash Wednesday
February 17, 2021  7:00pm   


Song: Return to God
Text and music: Marty Haugen  Text: © 1990, 1991, GIA Publications, Inc. #A-716334

Return to God with all your heart, the source of grace and mercy; 
Come seek the tender faithfulness of God. 
I will take your heart of stone and place a heart within you, 
a heart of compassion and love.   Return to God . . . 
If you break the chains of oppression, if you set the pris'ner free; 
if you share your bread with the hungry, give protection to the lost; 
give shelter to the homeless, clothe the naked in your midst, 
then your light shall break forth like the dawn.  Return to God . . .  

Reading 1: Joel 2: 1 - 2, 12 – 13

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD
is coming, it is near- a day of gloom, a day of clouds and thick fear!
Like the unknown spread upon the mountains a great and powerful
army comes; their like has never been from of old, not will be again
after them in ages to come.
Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with
Fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the LORD, your
God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding
In steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

Song: I Have Come into Your Presence

I have come into your presence, Maker of the heavens and earth.
You created us to love you, To serve you as your precious child.
We have disobeyed and wandered,
Your creation spoiled and squandered.
Lord, to you I make confession.  I have sinned and gone astray.
I have multiplied transgression, Chosen for myself my way.
Led by you to see my error, Lord, forgive me as your debtor.
Lord, on you I cast my burden Sink it in the depths below!
Let me know your gracious pardon, Wash me, my cup overflow.
Let your Spirit leave me never, Make me only yours forever.

Reading 2: Joel 2: 14 - 17

Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing
behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.  Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged;
gather the children, even the infants…. 
Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of
the LORD, weep.  Let them say, “Spare your people, O God, and do
not make your heritage a mockery…  Why should it be said among
the peoples, “Where is their God?”

Song: Forgive Us, Lord/Perdon Senor
text (translated): George Lockwood  Text: © 2000, Abingdon Press
Music: Perdón, Señor  song #82706  música © 1972, Juan A. Espinosa. Obra publicada por OCP. #A-716334 

Forgive us, Lord.  Forgive us, Lord. 
For all the world’s injustice, forgive us, Lord. 
For all of our indifference, forgive us, Lord, forgive us, Lord. 
We’re shackled by our habits, forgive us, Lord. 
We’re chained to disobedience, forgive us, Lord, forgive us, Lord. 
As we forgive each other, forgive us, Lord. 
According to your promise, forgive us, Lord, forgive us, Lord. 
Deliver us from evil, forgive us, Lord.
For joyful service free us, forgive us, Lord, forgive us, Lord. 

Reading 3: Psalm 51:1-4, 6, 8-12

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash
me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I
know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned and done what is falling short
in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless
when you pass judgment.  You desire truth in the inward being ;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed
rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit
within me.  Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not
take your holy spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your
salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Sermonette:  "Gesture of Grace: Sign of the Cross"    Rev. Joseph


Song: Remember That You Are Dust
music: Mark Mummert  Tune: ©2009 Augsburg Fortress
All Things of Dust to Dust Return text: Thomas H. Troeger
Text: © 2003, Oxford University Press #A-716334

Refrain:  Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
All things of dust to dust return on earth and in the sky.
The hottest, brightest suns that burn in time grow dim and die.
The fish that leap, the birds that soar, the newborn young that play,
the leaves that fill the forest floor revert to dust and clay. 


Lord, mark with dust and ash my brow so I may comprehend
that every moment here and now links me to that same end
I share with all that breathe and burn, that flare and fade and tire
Yet by their waning light discern your own undying fire.  


Lord, make upon my brown this sign: a stark and barren cross
reminding me that though divine you know my pain and loss,
and at the touch of dust and ash awake my heart to view
how death itself is but a flash that dies away in you.         


Reading 4: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen
by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that
they may be praised by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received
their reward.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand
know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done
in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites;
for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners,
so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Parent who is in secret;
and your Parent who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Parent who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The candles will be extinguished. 

Please remain seated until directed by the COVID Response Team, and leave the Sanctuary in silence.

+  +  +


Rev. Jake Miles Joseph, Associate Minister
William C. Speed, Director of Music Ministries
Judianne Wallace, Director of Children and Youth Ministeries
Penelope Rebuzzini, Office Manager
Amy Earls and Don Johnson, First Church Choir

Previous Page