Return to the Lord
with all your heart.

Ash Wednesday

February 17, 2021

We will celebrate Holy Communion on Zoom this evening at 7:00...

Gather bread and wine or juice, and log into Zoom to pray and sing together, hear God's Word of grace, and celebrate Holy Communion enter this rich season of Lent.

Meeting ID: 859 5384 1459
Passcode: 238744
Phone in: +1 929 205 6099, then enter the passcode.
A note to remember: Please remain muted throughout the service, especially during hymns.

Ash Wednesday
Service of the Word
(Pre-recorded Service)

~ Gathering ~


Greeting and Prayer of the Day

Return to the Lord your God,
for God is gracious.
Confess to the Lord your God,
for God is merciful.
Repent to the Lord your God,
for God is slow to anger.
Praise the Lord your God,
for God abounds in steadfast love.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.

Let us pray. Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

First Reading  Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
1Blow 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—
2a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.
12Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13rend 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.
14Who 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?
15Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.
17Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ”

Word of God. Word of life.
Thanks be to God.
Second Reading   2 Corinthians 5:20b--6:10
A reading from Second Corinthians.
20bWe entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Word of God. Word of life.
Thanks be to God.

Gospel  Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
The Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Glory to you, O Lord.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“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.
 2“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. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 5“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. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 16“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. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.


The prophet Joel cried out:        
Return to the Lord with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
For God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love.
Let us confess our sins and repent of all unrighteousness.

Merciful God,  
we confess that we have been a rebellious people.
We have broken your covenant,
and we have tolerated injustice in our land.
We have not shared our food with the hungry,
we have not sheltered the homeless,
and we have not aided the destitute.
We quarrel and fight among ourselves,
and we use religion to cover our deceit.
We have become a mockery of our heritage;     
the world looks at us and asks, Where is their God?
Forgive us, O God.
Subdue our rebellious hearts
and restore in us the light of salvation;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

God created us out of the dust of the earth.

As we begin our journey into Lent this Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that
ashes are a sign of our mortality and penitence, and remind us that only by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ are we given eternal life. Although we do not receive those ashes today we remember that they are placed on our foreheads in the shape of a cross, the same mark that was placed on us at our baptism into Christ where we were marked with the cross of Christ forever.

Touch that spot. Draw the shape of a cross. Remember that we have come from dust, and will return to dust. But also remember that as we have been marked by Christ’s cross, we are forgiven, loved, and promised abundant life..

God hears us when we cry, and draws us close in Jesus Christ.
God’s word never fails. The promise rests on grace:
by the saving love of Jesus Christ,
the wisdom and power of God,
your sins are ☩ forgiven, and God remembers them no more.
Journey in the way of Jesus.
Amen. Thanks be to God.
Prayers of the People

Let us pray for the world, the church, and for all people who seek Christ’s face.
A brief silence for meditation

God of hope, you have come to us and embraced us, holding us in the safety of your arms of love. Keep us always in your care. Comfort us when we lose hope. Heal us when we suffer. Encourage us when we falter. And work in us so that we may bear your cross and your redeeming Word to the world. Be with us this night as we gather as your Church, and strengthen us to be your presence in the world. Work through our congregation to feed, to comfort, to proclaim and to love in this community and wherever we are. Work in us to be your healing presence for all who are sick, who grieve, who face death, who are lonely, and who long for your mercy. Hear our own prayers and the names we lift before you now…

For all these things and whatever else you see we need, we pray, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.


The God of steadfastness and encouragement
grant you to live in harmony with one another,
in accordance with Christ Jesus.
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The God of all grace ☩ bless you now and forever.

O God, receive this gift as you receive us: like a mother receives her child, with arms open wide. Nourish us anew in your tender care, and empower us in faithful service to tend to others with this same love, through Jesus Christ, our saving grace. Amen.

Pastor: Rev. Joanne Groman-Stewart
Director of Music Ministry: Josh Ehlebracht
Cantor: Sarah Johnson
Midweek Worship in Lent

We will have 2 different midweek worship opportunities as we journey through the season of Lent. Pastors of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Conference of our synod will be leading a worship service on Zoom each Wednesday evening at 7:00 to reflect on the readings for upcoming Sundays and reflect on ways we are gathered together as God's people.

In addition to meeting in person on Zoom, the much-loved Holden Evening Prayer will be recorded by clergy of the conference and shared each Wednesday for you to watch on your own time.

You may read more about this year's midweek worship by clicking the link below. Links and Zoom information will be shared each week. Share the beauty and grace of this season by worship with our siblings from around the conference.
40 Days+40 Miles+40 Dollars:
Walking to End Hunger
#UNYSWalkingToEndHunger #40days40miles40dollars
Get out those walking shoes or boots or sneakers or snowshoes! 
Beginning Ash Wednesday, February 17, and throughout the season of Lent, join the virtual walk with Bishop Macholz and others throughout the synod while learning more about issues of hunger and what we can do to help.
How to participate:
1.    Make a commitment to walk at least 40 miles in the 40 days of Lent and donate $40 to ELCA World Hunger. You can walk in the great outdoors or just around your house as you develop this shared Lenten practice of walking and giving financially to the work of ending hunger.

2.    Share your progress on social media using these hashtags #UNYSWalkingToEndHunger #40days40miles40dollars #ELCAWorldHunger Be sure to watch for Bishop Macholz's messages as we walk through the season.

3.    When you reach 40 miles click below to register your accomplishment and make your donation. All monies collected will be given to ELCA World Hunger. You may also send a check to the UNYS Synod and make sure to make note that it is for ELCA World Hunger.

Liturgy from Sundays and Copyright 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #23581.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Restore in Us, O God, Text © 1989, Music © 1985 GIA Publications. Reprinted by permission under OneLicense #A-714459. 

Jesus, Remember Me Text © 1981 Les Presses de Taize, GIA Publications. Reprinted by permission under OneLicense #A-714459. 

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