Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

February 2016: Ashes to Ashes by numbers

ashes to ashes by numbers flyer

As in previous Communions by Numbers, the sections of the service are contained in numbered envelopes. The congregation sat around tables in fours and fives, each table had a set of envelopes. At a signal [this time, a struck cymbal] the next envelope was opened and the groups did as instructed therein.

0. Introduction:

Since early days, Christians have prepared for Easter with a season of penitence and fasting. It's a time to think about what it means to follow Christ. Some prepare for Easter by a careful keeping of the days of Lent, taking to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel. But if following Lent as a discipline is not for you, or if you have tried and failed in the past, then give up guilt for Lent. The road to the Cross, after all, is lined with failed intentions.

Tonight’s service focuses on the start of Lent.

[Explanation of how the service will work.]

Envelope 1:

Psalm 51 v.1-13 - read aloud together

Envelope 2:

[contains the following passage, three night lights, matches, and some of Si Smith's illustrations from '40' by Chris Goan and Simon Smith, available from]

As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?

[David Bowie]

Lent commemorates the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness, before starting his new life as a public figure.

It was a preparation for a time of action and achievement, but also a signal that the clock was ticking on Jesus' life:
How long? And what do I do with the time I've got left?

However long or short our lives might be from this point, Lent is a call to refocus on what really matters.

What do you want to strip away from your life this Lent?
What do you want to focus on more fully?

Light the candles and tell one another about it

si smit images from 40

Envelope 3:

We joined in the confession and marked one another's foreheads with ash crosses.

Envelope 4:

Read this meditation by Martin Wroe slowly, out loud, and discuss any thoughts that flow from it. Is there anything we need to lose during Lent?

Envelope 5:

[contains the following words, and blank cards]

the peace:

condense your intentions for Lent into one word

write it on a card

then go to another group
share your peace with the others
share your word with the others

Envelope 6:

The Ash Wednesday eucharist liturgy from 'Imaging the Word'. Bread and wine are on each of the tables, Anna presides from one of them.

Envelope 7:

Readings from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, split for four readers, with silent prayer between.

Envelope 8:

After-communion prayer and dismissal from 'Imaging the word'. On the main screen, a video of the desert blooming after rain.

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