2018-19 RCL-C Ash Wednesday
Additional Resources for Proclamation & Preaching
Ash Wednesday (Lent): March 6, 2019 • Gospel Text: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Ashes In Public
Proclamation for Today
by Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
A few years back, many liturgical communities started experimenting with drive-thru or ashes-to-go Ash Wednesday services. The impulse isn’t without merit. Providing opportunities for brief, private devotion centered in repentance in communities beholden to demanding work-weeks is thoughtful. One such church offered an Ash Wednesday service near the bus stop. Other Ash Wednesday stations go mobile and walk their neighborhood.
Such mobile ash-ing takes on new resonances when brought into interpretive tension with the gospel for Ash Wednesday. Part way into Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes time to offer a set of warnings about the dangers of parading private piety in public. Scheduling this lesson specifically on Ash Wednesday has tied up preachers and worshippers for centuries in fits of consternation. Having heard this gospel, can I walk out of Ash Wednesday morning service and leave the ashes on my head for the day?
In a sense, the answer is simpler than we might think. Essentially, Jesus follows a three stage logic. First, Jesus assumes we will practice these forms of piety. He doesn’t warn against almsgiving, prayer, or fasting. No, he says: “when you…” He lines out the three traditions of the Lenten season: giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting.
Then, when you are practicing them, don’t do them for the sake of whatever benefit might accrue before others by the actions. If you give to the poor in order to get something back in social prestige, then you’re doing it wrong.
Finally, practice these forms of piety for God and God alone. It’s this last part that makes all the difference, and can allow us to reflect on the appropriateness of mobile ash-ing vs. corporate Ash Wednesday services. Either or both can potentially comport with Jesus’ teaching here, depending on the internal disposition both of the individuals practicing the piety, and the communities cultivating them.
If the local community is offering the forms of piety for show, they’re doing them wrong.
If the individual receiving the ashes is doing it for public perception, they’re doing it wrong.
If the services cultivate and turn hearts towards God, and deepen commitment to giving to the poor, fasting, and prayer, then you’re doing it right.
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by RCL Worship Resources or Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. Click here for more free RCL worship resources & planning materials.
ASH WEDNESDAY ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
FOR SERMON PREPARATION
Historical Exegetical Resources
The Qaddish, and comparative texts about Pharisees & Sadducees from Josephus, Tosefta, Mishnah & Babylonian Talmud. At (Rutgers University Dept of Religion) Mahlon H. Smith's Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus companion to the historical study of Christian texts.
"Forgiveness for Forgiveness," The Jesus Database, an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus. Dr. Gregory C. Jenks, FaithFutures Foundation.
"Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting," Gospel Analysis, Sermons from Seattle, Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.
"Pray This Way: A Study of the Lord's Prayer," by Mark G. Vitalis Hoffmann.
"Sermon on the Mount," multiple articles and resources, Christian Reflection, The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, 2008.
For children: "Lord, Teach Us How to Pray”
General article covering prayer. RCL Worship Resources. Written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch.
Free Drama Resources
"Prayer Sketches," Trevor Fletcher, dramatix.
"Waiting for Rescue," Fred Lane, dramatix.
"The Prayer Restaurant," Cliff Hunse, dramatix.
"I Need to Hear from You," Peter France, dramatix.
"I Know," Ryne Mimbs, dramatix.
"Forgiveness," Janelle S. Ponte, dramatix.
"Phar-A-Non," Glenn A. Hascall, dramatix.
"Forgiveness - Dwarf Style," Dean Herring, dramatix.
"Is That Your Final Answer," Denise Peteron, dramatix.
"Choosing a Future," Greg Brook, dramatix.
Video Resources (Below)
Additional Hymns & Praise Music
· When Giving Your Gifts, Text: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Tune: LYONS 10.10.11.11 ("O Worship the King, All Glorious Above), a new hymn based on Jesus' teaching concerning almsgiving, prayer, fasting and treasures, found in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.
· Don't Show Off Your Giving Text: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Tune: ASH GROVE 184.108.40.206.6.11 D (“Let All Things Now Living”) This hymn is a paraphrase of chapter 6 in Matthew and part of "The Sermon on the Mount: A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs."
· When You Are Praying (Jesus Teaching on Prayer), Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, NEW BRITAIN (CM 220.127.116.11) (Amazing Grace) or CRIMOND (CM 18.104.22.168) (The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want) with links to helpful books on the Lord?s Prayer.
· Contemporary/Praise Song suggestions, Together to Celebrate, David MacGregor.
· Hymnary.org, hymns, scores, media, information.
· Hymns with Scripture Allusions: Matthew 6:6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 19, 20. The Cyber Hymnal.
· Hymn selections (United Methodist) and more from Hymnsite.com.
· Hymn Selections, The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship.
· "Take Up Your Cross," Brenton Prigge, NewHymn, a new, relevant hymn set to traditional tunes.
Free Current RCL Daily Devotional
More Reading For You
Current RCL Worship Trends
Dramatic Reading of the Text
Readers: Jesus 1, Jesus 2
Jesus 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. “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. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Jesus 2: “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. 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.”
Jesus 1: “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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 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.”
Jesus 2: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”