Collective Worship Series // Lent // Bishop Phillip // Ash Wednesday


Hello I’m Bishop Philip and a very warm
welcome to Blackburn Cathedral where we’re in the Jesus Chapel for the first of a
special series of acts of collective worship for Lent
we’re going to be exploring all the Lent’s about and what it means to us and
each time we’re going to begin with a special greeting and then with a prayer
and the words will appear on the screen so please join in with me Now in January I made a New Year’s resolution my New Year’s resolution was to keep my desk tidy you see I’ve got the messiest desk in the whole world it looks like a bomb’s
gone off on it and a whole class of five-year-olds are crawled all over it
so I can never find anything so I thought I’m gonna have a really tidy
desk I get to have a desk as tidy as this so this morning I took a photo
of my desk and here’s what it looks like oh dear what a disaster looks like I
failed again I wonder if you’ve ever done anything
like that you’ve decided to be really good at something say you’ve decided to
keep your bedroom tidy or you’ve decided to do it less chocolate and more
vegetables or you’ve decided to practice every day and get really good at
football and you start off really energetic and enthusiastic but over time
you forget about your promise and it all goes wrong the trouble is sometimes our
faith in Jesus Christ can be a bit like that we can forget about it we can
forget the kind of lives that Jesus wants us to live and start doing things
he doesn’t want us to do we can forget to pray we can forget how much Jesus
loves us our faith can grow a bit cold and Jesus can seem a bit distant
well Lent is all about addressing that and making a new start with Jesus Christ
Lent is the time of year when we decide again to put God first and it all begins
with a story in the Bible Lent lasts for 40 days
and that’s how long Jesus spent in the wilderness right at the beginning of his
public ministry the wilderness is a horrible dry arid place hardly anything
to eat or drink and Jesus ate nothing for that whole
forty days imagine that I’m starving if I just go without my breakfast Jesus
went forty days with no food so you were starving hungry and then who should come
to see Him through the desert other than the devil himself the tempter and the
tempter picked up a great big stone and said look at this stone Jesus this stone
you could turn it into a loaf of bread that’s the power you’ve got and have a
lovely lovely meal and Jesus thought yes I could turn this stone into bread I am
that powerful as God’s Son but if I were to do that I’d be putting myself first
what I need to do is put God first so Jesus said to the tempter get away from me men and women cannot live on bread alone
but on every word that God speaks and the tempter went away but then a bit later
the tempter came back and this time he led Jesus up to a really high place
up loads and loads of steps they went to the pinnacle of the temple miles and
miles above the ground and they looked down and there was a vast drop and the
tempter said to Jesus go on Jesus jump you could jump off this pinnacle and
because you’re God’s Son he’d send his angels to protect you then think you’d be famous everyone would think you were the most amazing person
in the world because you jump from the pinnacle of the temple and Jesus thought
I could do that of course God would send His angels to
protect me but if I were to jump then I’d be putting myself and my fame first
whereas I need to put God first so a second time Jesus sent the tempter
packing and said you shall not put the Lord your God to the test but still the tempter
hadn’t finished this time he led Jesus up a mountain and look at the view they
could see for miles they could see great nations they could see huge cities they
could see people working in the fields they could see soldiers doing their
exercises of war they could see fishermen out at sea catching their fish
they could see all the kingdoms of the world and the devil said Jesus all of
this can be yours you can be the most powerful man who ever lived all you need
to do is bow down and worship me and Jesus thought yes I could be the most
powerful man who ever lived I’m God’s Son but to do that would mean putting
myself first whereas I need to put God first so a
third time Jesus said to the tempter you shall worship God alone and he sent the
tempter packing in the wilderness Jesus decided to put God first and in Lent
that’s the decision that we’re called to make as well to put God first to say
sorry for the things we’ve done wrong to start the friendship again you know
sometimes with a friend you fall out with them but then when you make up
again it’s an even better friendship that’s what can happen in Lent we make
friends with Jesus again we put him first so our friendship gets even closer
and in Lent we do that by making a special Lent rule that means taking some
things up perhaps making a little bit of extra time for prayer maybe reading
Luke’s Gospel in the Bible maybe just trying to be a better person and also we
give things up so people perhaps in Lent give up chocolate or sweets or crisps or
something they don’t really need in order to focus their lives on God again
remember everything’s from him and put God first now in church we start Lent on
Ash Wednesday and we do that in a very special way and this is why I need my
two friends where’s Jack and Jess Jack and Jess are both in year six
and they’re from the Redeemer school in Blackburn thank you so much for coming now look in this bowl can
you see what I’ve got I’ve got some ash and this ash is made from burning
palm crosses and I’ve got some ash because ash is a bit like what our lives
are like without God without God we just made from dust and we’ll go back to dust
we’re not very much at all so this ash reminds us how much we need
God in our lives as we make a new start with Him so Jess if could you just hold that a minute and first of all we’re going to add to the ash a little bit of special holy water and that will mean we make a paste and then we’re going to say a prayer to bless the ash God our Father, you create us in 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 Savior Amen and what I’m going to do is I’m going to
use this ash to make the sign of the Cross on Jess and on Jack’s forehead and I’ll use some special words as I do it Jess remember that you are dust and to
dust you will return Jack remember that you are dust and to
dust you will return and I too need to make a new start at Lent and put God first so I’m going to ask Jess to do the same with me remember you are dust and to dust you
will return So now we’ve all got crosses of ash on our foreheads a sign that we’ve kicked Lent off and decided to put God first thank You very much Jess and Jack so let’s end our worship as we pray
together Lord Jesus we thank you that in wilderness you sent the tempter packing and choose to put God first help us as we begin our journey of Lent to put you first in everything to make a new start and to discover your love as if
for the first time Amen Now would you like to turn to your neighbour and talk to them about how you’re going to make this lent a special time of putting God
first

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