Ash Wednesday 2018 — Planning Notes



Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Calendar Notes

The color for Ash Wednesday (February 14) is purple.    

February 14   Ash Wednesday
                        Lent Series Begins (forthcoming)
February 19   Presidents Day

March 2         World Day of Prayer
March 11       UMCOR Sunday
                       Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Spring) (USA)
March 25      Passion/Palm Sunday
                      Holy Week Series Begins
March 29      Maundy/Holy Thursday
March 30      Good Friday
March 31      Holy Saturday (until Sundown)
                      Easter Eve/Easter Vigil (after Sundown)

April 1           
Easter Day
                      Easter Series Begins
April 15        
Native American Ministries Sunday
April 22         Festival of God’s Creation
April 25         World Malaria Day

All Month       Christian Home Month (2018 Theme: Families Called to Peace, forthcoming)
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 3              National Day of Prayer
May 4              May Friendship Day (UMW/CWU)
May 7-13        
Christian Family Week (2018 resources forthcoming)
May 10            
Ascension Day
May 13            Ascension Sunday
                        Festival of the Christian Home/Mother’s Day (USA)
May 19-20      
Change the World Weekend
May 20           Day of Pentecost
                       Heritage Sunday (forthcoming)
May 24           
Aldersgate Day
May 27           Trinity Sunday
                       Peace with Justice Sunday
May 28           Memorial Day (USA)

Pray for annual conferences convening throughout the month, for all receiving new appointments or assignments, for those leaving existing appointments or assignments, and for congregations and other ministries receiving new leadership. 

For your Planning Team

Lent begins with dust and ashes. We start this time of intensive preparation for baptism or realigning our lives with the vows of the baptismal covenant acknowledging our human limitations. We remember we are dust and to dust we will return. Our efforts in this life will one day be reduced to ashes. And in the meantime, we have deeply ingrained habits marked by sin, stained by selfishness, and resistant to our own efforts to change them.

This is why Lent begins and proceeds with penitence. Penitence does not mean “feeling sorry” or “feeling guilty,” though these feelings may sometimes accompany the work of penitence. Penitence as we embody it in this service and throughout this season means acknowledging where we are, owning up to it, recognizing we cannot fix ourselves by ourselves, and seeking God’s mercy and power to renew us in the way of Jesus as we seek to learn to follow him either anew or more nearly.

This service of Ash Wednesday has many moving parts: music, graphics, readings, blessing and imposition of ashes, Communion. There are two things to keep in mind about services with many moving parts: One is the need for rehearsal to ensure that all parts work smoothly together and flow from beginning to end. Keep rehearsing until you need minimal or no verbal cues to move to the next step. The other is with as much ritual action as this service holds, less is more when it comes to additional words. Focus on nonverbal actions, and leave good space for silence. Let the words of Scripture, songs, and prayers be the primary verbalized parts. This is why we have placed the sermon in brackets in the order of worship. You may decide you do not need a sermon.

Finally, as people depart in silence, consider giving them a list of the formation groups and other weekly opportunities and where and when they meet during the coming weeks, with a note to pray for all people who are seeking Christ or a deeper knowledge of him through this season.