Dear Church Family,

 

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. As Christians, we observe Lent to remember Jesus’ love and grace on the cross because Jesus’ sacrificial love is the foundation of our life and faithful journey. Unfortunately, we cannot have In-person worship for Ash Wednesday Service this year due to the pandemic. However, we together will worship God via Online Worship. I invite you to Ash Wednesday worship and participate in other programs during the Lenten season to consider God’s love and Jesus’ grace deeper and how meaningful it is in your life. 

 

Online worship links:

YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOzxLc7UQjeMNprjm9u8gtQ/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/lfumcnj/

 

You can join Online Worship using your home phone or cell phone. Call with the number 646-876-9923 and enter the Meeting ID, 917 9067 6301, and # Key and then press # key again. Passcode 139139.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Jin

GATHERING & PRAISE

 

PRELUDE  

 

WELCOME

 

⭻CALL TO WORSHIP & OPENING PRAYER             

 

Leader: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

All: And also with you.  

Leader: Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins.

All: God’s mercy endures forever.

Leader: Let us pray to the Lord together:

All: O God, you have called your people to a time of fasting and repentance. 

 

OPENING PRAYER                 Ash Wednesday                                UMH 353

 

O God,

Maker of every thing and judge of all that you have made,

From the dust of the earth you have formed us

And from the dust of death you would raise us up.

 

By the redemptive power of the cross,

Create in us clean hearts

And put within us a new spirit,

That we may repent of our sins

And lead lives worthy of your calling;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

All: O God, maker of everything and judge of all that you have made, from the dust of the earth you have formed us and from the dust of death you would raise us up. By the redemptive power of the cross, create in us clean hearts and put within us a new spirit, that we may repent of our sins and lead lives worthy of your calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

⭻OPENING HYMN          Just as I Am, Without One Plea                    UMH 357

 

Just as I am without one plea,

but that thy blood was shed for me,

and that thou bidst me come to thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am and waiting not

to rid my soul of one dark blot,

to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am though tossed about

with many a conflict, many a doubt,

fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

sight, riches, healing of the mind,

yea, all I need in Thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,

wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

because thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, thy love unknown

hath broken every barrier down;

now, to be thine, yea Thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
 

LISTENING FOR GOD’S WORD

 

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION                   

Pastor: Merciful Savior, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, and wherever we need You most this holy night, enter in and change us, we pray.  Amen.

 

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON        Joel 2:12-17

 

12 Yet even now, says the Lord,
   return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     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.
14 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?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
   sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather 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.

17 Between 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?’”

 

 

RESPONSIVE READING           Psalm 51:1-17              UMH 785

 

Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
   blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
   and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
   and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
   and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Behold, I was born iniquity, and I have

    been sinful since my mother conceived me.

6 You desire truth in the inward being;
   therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
   wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
   and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   and sinners will return to you.

14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
   O God of my salvation,
   and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
   if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

 

 

⭻GOSPEL LESSON             Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21           

Concerning Almsgiving

6 “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. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Prayer

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. 6 But 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.

Concerning Fasting

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. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so 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.

Concerning Treasures

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

       

                                                  

MESSAGE               Impose Ashes on Our Hearts!           Rev. Jin Kook Kim   

 

It was hard for me to plan this Ash Wednesday Service because it would be Online Worship only, not in-person Worship. One of the main traditional rituals on Ash Wednesday is to impose ashes on our forehead. However, online Worship limits us not to impose ashes on our forehead. And our NJ Conference of UMC advises churches not to impose ashes on people this year to protect people from the pandemic. Imposing ashes is a meaningful tradition for us, but we cannot do it this year.

 

This situation made me think of the meaning of the tradition. Why do we impose ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday that is the first day of Lent? What is the purpose of imposing ashes? Do you know about this? People in the Old Testament of the Bible put ashes on their whole body from head to toe when they repent their sins before God. They put on sackcloth when they put ashes on themselves. Ashes and sackcloth were used to express grief in ancient times. People put on sackcloth when they lost their loved ones. It was funeral clothes at that time that showed one’s sorrow for the loss of the loved ones. That lets us know the sorrow in repentance was as much as the sorrow in losing loved ones.

 

Repentance is that we confess our sins from the bottom of our hearts before God. True repentance should come out from our sincere hearts. Repentance is different from regret. Repentance is that we fully admit our wrongdoings and commit ourselves to righteousness before God. It is not to avoid God’s judgment at that moment only but to turn away from evil and go to God. Ashes and sackcloth show us that the people in the Bible were in great grief because of their sins. They felt sorry to God for their sins sincerely. The result of sins is death. And they knew that they would die due to their sins before God. Thus, it showed their mourning that they put on sackcloth and put ashes on their body. They asked God to forgive them, repenting with their hearts and bodies. They asked God to give them a second chance. They were serious and sincere. With that meaning, as the sign of our repentance, we have imposed ashes on our forehead every Ash Wednesday.

 

I hope we don’t impose ashes on our forehead as a ritual that we had to do because we have done it till now. Let us have sincere hearts tonight. Let us have a sorrowful heart for our sins and grief for our evil. Let us confess our sins before God with our hearts that we deserve death due to our sins before God. Let us ask God to forgive us with our sincere hearts.

 

God knows our hearts. God can read our hearts. We cannot deceive God because God knows us. Jesus criticized religious authorities because of their hypocrisy. They seemed to follow God and work for God, but Jesus knew greed and evil in their hearts. They wanted to show others their righteousness. They didn’t have sincere hearts before God. Jesus said to them, “You, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.” (Matthew 23:27). Let’s not be hypocrites before God. Let us not be like whitewashed tombs before Jesus. Jesus said to people who followed him, “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 (Matthew 6:5) “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. (Matthew 6:16)” Jesus wants us to follow Jesus with our hearts, not just our body or appearance only. Jesus wants us to follow God’s will with our sincere hearts.

 

We don’t impose ashes on our forehead tonight. Let us impose ashes on our hearts. The imposed ashes on our forehead had gone after one hour or a day when we impose ashes on our forehead. However, when we impose ashes on our hearts spiritually, the imposed ashes will last forever on our hearts until we change our hearts until we turn away from God. The imposed ashes on our hearts will make us humble before God and live out our lives in accordance with God’s will.

 

I have the good news. God will forgive us when we repent with our hearts, our sincere hearts, and our sorrowful hearts. God is good and gracious. God loves us and wants to save us. God chooses to forgive us, and God is ready to forgive us. Thus, let us repent our sins before God with our hearts, imposing ashes on our hearts, clothing our hearts with sackcloth. We are blessed because God is always ready to forgive us and give us a second chance.

 

In the Lenten season, let’s impose ashes on our hearts by having fellowship time with God every day. First, set a time for the time with God. Read the Bible and meditate on it and pray to God. You can use The Upper Room. You can use the video that lay servants, and I will provide. Second, join Sunday Worship with a sincere heart. The Worship is designed with the theme of Lent for the next 6 Sundays. Third, join the Lenten Bible Study. We will study the meaning of the cross through the story. We will learn what the Bible talks about the cross. Fourth, choose your own ways to practice during Lent, such as fasting, helping people, collecting food for the food pantry ministry, inviting people to God’s love and grace, sharing your story, and any other ways. Use your time, energy, strength, other resources for God and God’s kingdom during Lent more than at other times.

 

Remember that we are dust, and to dust, we shall return. Let us impose ashes on our hearts! Amen.

 

REFLECTION HYMN                 I Surrender All                  UMH 354

 

All to Jesus, I surrender;

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.

 

Refrain

 

I surrender all, I surrender all,

All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,

I surrender all.

 

All to Jesus I surrender;

Humbly at His feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all forsaken;

Take me, Jesus, take me now.

  

Refrain

 

All to Jesus, I surrender;

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel the Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine.

 

Refrain

 

All to Jesus, I surrender;

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power;

Let Thy blessing fall on me.

 

Refrain

 

All to Jesus I surrender;

Now I feel the sacred flame.

O the joy of full salvation!

Glory, glory, to His Name!

 

Refrain

 

RESPONDING TO GOD’S WORD

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION   (from the UM Book of Worship) 

 

Pastor: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Most Merciful God, we are children of dust and unworthy of the favors and goodness you shower upon us.  We have not loved you as you have loved us, nor have we lived as we ought, and our years are soon gone.  

All: O God, have mercy upon us.  

 

Pastor: Lift us above every past regret and present failure; reveal to us our true selves. Give us grace to accept your mercy, and the courage to live by your promises.  

All: Grant us your forgiveness and peace.  We have no other hope, except in You.  Amen.

 

WORDS OF ASSURANCE 

 

Pastor: God’s love is never ending.  God is always present with and for us.  As we journey through the days of Lent, may we come to know even more completely the depth and wideness of God’s love.  In the love of Christ, you are forgiven.

All: In the love of Christ, you are also forgiven.  Amen.

 

  

THE LENTEN ASHES

 

Silent Prayer of Preparation and the Lord’s Prayer

 

All: 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.  Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

 

⭻ THE ASHES & THE CROSS & THANKSGIVING

 

⭻CLOSING HYMN                     Amazing Grace               UMH 378

 

Verse 1

Amazing grace how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Was blind but now I see

 

Verse 2

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

 

Verse 3

The Lord has promised good to me

His Word my hope secures

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures

 

Verse 4

Through many dangers toils and snares

I have already come

'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far

And grace will lead me home

 

Verse 5

Yea when this flesh and heart shall fail

And mortal life shall cease

I shall possess within the veil

A life of joy and peace

 

Verse 6

When we've been there ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun

We've no less days to sing God's praise

Than when we first begun

⭻SENDING FORTH 

 

Pastor: O God of our salvation, as we go forth into this season of repentance and reflection, of turning and returning, may we trust in your mercy, seek Christ’s reign in our lives, and rely upon the Spirit's power. 

All: Through Jesus Christ, who is the path to forgiveness and new life, we pray. Amen.

 

⭻POSTLUDE

 

⭻ All who are able, please stand.

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