Ash Wednesday - 17 February

      St. Michael and All Angels                    Amersham on the Hill

Holy Eucharist

The forty days of Lent are a period of self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and preparation for Easter, reminding us of the forty days, which Jesus spent in the wilderness. Ashes are an ancient sign of penitence, a custom from the Middle Ages to begin Lent by being marked in ash with the sign of the cross. It is usual to count the forty days continuously to the end of Holy Week (not including Sundays), so beginning Lent on the sixth Wednesday before Easter.

The Gathering

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  All Amen.


The Greeting

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.   All and also with you.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord's passion and resurrection and prepared for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

By carefully keeping these days, Christians take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy word.

All Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.


The Collect

Let us pray for grace to keep Lent faithfully. 

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy,  perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.   All Amen.

The Liturgy of the Word
First Reading  Joel 2.1-2

Blow 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— a 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. Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 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. 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? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 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. 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?”’  For the word of the Lord    All Thanks be to God.


Psalm 51, 1-18

Response: Have mercy on me, O God.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offenses. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in  your sight,  Have mercy on me, O God.
So that you are justified in your sentence and righteous in your judgement. Have mercy on me, O God.

I have been wicked even from my birth, a sinner when my mother conceived me. Behold, you desire truth deep within me and shall make me understand wisdom in the depths of my heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Have mercy on me, O God.

Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice.Turn your face from my sins and blot out all my misdeeds. Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Have mercy on me, O God.

Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your gracious spirit. Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked and sinners shall return to you.   Have mercy on me, O God.

Deliver me from my guilt, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness. Have mercy on me, O God. 

O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Have mercy on me, O God.

For you desire no sacrifice, else I would give it; you take no delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Have mercy on me, O God.


Gospel Reading John 8.1-11

Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory. The Lord is a great God, O that today you would listen to his voice. Harden not your hearts.
All Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory.
The Lord be with you    All and also with you.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.   All Glory to you, O Lord.

Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.   All Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon John 8:1-11 Ash Wednesday

The Liturgy of Penance - Self examination and confession 

Let us now call to mind our sin and the infinite mercy of God. 

God the Father, All Have mercy on us.
God the Son, All Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, All Have mercy on us.
Trinity of love, All Have mercy on us.

All Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.    All Lord, have mercy.
We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.    All Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you, Lord....all our past unfaithfulness, the pride, hypocrisy and impatience of our lives.    All Lord, have mercy.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people.    All Lord, have mercy.
Our anger at our own frustration and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.    All Lord, have mercy.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts and our dishonesty in daily life and work.   All Lord, have mercy.
Our negligence in prayer and worship and our failure to commend the faith that is in us.   All Lord, have mercy.
Accept our repentance, Lord....  for the wrongs we have done for our blindness to human need and suffering,  and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.   All Accept our repentance, Lord.
For all false judgements, for uncharitable thoughts towards our neighbours and for our prejudice and contempt towards those who differ from us.    All Accept our repentance, Lord.
For our waste and pollution of your creation and our lack of concern for those who come after us.   All Accept our repentance, Lord.
Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us.All Favourably hear us, for your mercy is great.  Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,   All that we may show your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord, All bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

All We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

The Imposition of Ashes - Spiritually

 Dear friends in Christ, I invite you to receive these ashes spiritually as a sign of the spirit of penitence with which we shall keep this season of Lent. 

 God our Father, you create us from the dust of the earth: grant that these ashes may be for us a sign of our penitence  and a symbol of our mortality; for it is by your grace alone that we receive eternal life in Jesus Christ our Saviour.    All Amen.
 Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ. God our Father, the strength of all who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers; and because, in our weakness, we can do nothing good without you, grant us the help of your grace,  that in keeping your commandments we may please you, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.   All Amen.


The Lord's Prayer 

Lord Jesus, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray 

All Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

The Blessing 

Christ give you grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow him; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. All Amen.


The Dismissal

This is love, not that we loved God,   All but that he loved us and sent his Son.
He is the sacrifice for our sins,   All that we might live through him.
If God loves us so much   All we ought to love one another.
If we love one another    All God lives in us.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.    All in the name of Christ. Amen.


Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000), Times and Seasons, Second Impression 2013. material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops' Council, CCL No. 908682. SM & AA 2018