PORTSMOUTH — Cornerstone United Methodist Church (UMC) in Portsmouth held a “Service of Worship” for Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent and focuses repentance and self-reflection.
Tim Roth, Senior Pastor at Cornerstone UMC, said the Service of Worship is very special at Cornerstone.
“Ash Wednesday is a special service in the life of Cornerstone. It marks the beginning of Lent which has been a time the church as set aside since as early as 200 AD. It is traditionally a time of repentance, fasting, self examination, and reflection,” Roth said. “We are reading the Gospel of John together at Cornerstone during this time with several additional Bible Studies and a sermon series focused on the season. In the coming weeks we are looking at Jesus seven last words from the cross. The highlight of Ash Wednesday is one of the pastors rubbing ashes on a person’s forehead in the sign of the cross.”
The season of Lent lasts 40 days, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending at sunset on Easter Eve. The word Lent comes from the Old English word, lenten, which refers to the lengthening of days and the coming of spring.
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, which is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. During this season of preparation, some people fast or give up something important to them. Some spend time in study, devotion and prayer. Others who take part in Lent cut back on their social life and devote more of their time to service in the community.
The service began with call to worship led by Tom Charles, one of the pastors at Cornerstone UMC. Rhonda Dunlap-Amato rendered a solo with the song, ‘Lead Me to the Cross.’
In staying aligned with a time of repentance, Charles led the congregation in prayer of confession and hope which stated: Most Holy God, your Son came to save sinners; we come to this season of repentance, confessing our unworthiness, asking for new and honest hearts, and the healing power of your forgiveness. Please grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dr. Wayne Young, also an associate pastor at Cornerstone UMC, read and expounded upon Old Testament passages of scripture from the book of 11 Samuel 12:1-9, and Psalm 51:1-17. The New Testament readings came from St. John 8-1-9, and 1John 1:8-9. Young also led the congregation in the Lenten Meditation.
The conclusion of the service was conducted by Roth with a prayer of thanksgiving over the ashes, and the imposition of the ashes in which Roth rubbed ashes in the form of a cross upon the foreheads of those in attendance, which represents repentance, belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and God’s forgiveness.
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