It is hard to impose ashes during a virtual Ash Wednesday service. There are ways to do it, yes, but as someone who would be worshiping alone at home and did not want to impose ashes on myself (and figured others might feel similarly), our service tonight focused on rending fabric as a ritual in response to sorrow in the Hebrew Scriptures. Instead of the tactile, embodied experience of ashes, I led a prayer of confession focused on the visual and auditory experience of tearing fabric.
The scriptures we read during this service were Job 2:11-13, Joshua 7:2-6, and Joel 2:11b-13. You can read them here.
You are welcome to simply read the confession prayer but I encourage you to watch and listen to the video below as well.
Prayer of Confession
Tonight we rend our hearts
for we are broken open by the pain of sin.
We confess the times when we have failed to provide needed care.
We confess the compassion we have failed to share.
We confess the grief we have failed to notice.
We confess the suffering we have responded to with indifference.
We confess the words that we have spoken in rage or hatred.
We confess the actions that have turned us away from the fullness of life-
actions borne of greed, envy, selfishness, anger and pain.
We rend our hearts for our contribution to injustice and inequality
and the suffering they cause.
We rend our hearts for violence done
for physical, emotional, and spiritual harm,
the wounds and scars and trauma through which pain grows
We rend our hearts for broken relationship
for ways we have failed to love one another well
Hear our confession O God
as we come in sorrow for words, thoughts, and deeds – done and left undone
that have taken us away from your holy way.
For those sins we do not acknowledge,
do not name as sin, but you see truly,
rend our hearts and reveal them to us
So we may find ourselves truly reconciled with you.
Holy God, take the torn pieces of our sin
and mend them with your forgiveness and love.
Assurance of Forgiveness
In the sorrow and pain of sin, God does not leave us stranded.
God remains with us,
a fount of mercy and grace
Offering the tools to mend, to remake, what we have torn.
Know now, truly, the forgiveness of your sins,
and carry with you what has been remade,
as proof of God’s never ending love.