Our 2021 Lenten Services Theme:

 “Our Spiritual Vision Problems….and How They Can Be Corrected”


God’s Remedy for Spiritual Astigmatism


Astigmatism…..Far-Sightedness….Near-Sightedness….Macular Degeneration….. Glaucoma…..and Cataracts. 

What the preceding have in common is that they are vision disorders – disorders that more than one among us (or someone we know) struggles with.    This Lenten season 2021, they also have something else in common:  These physical vision impairments and afflictions will serve us as illustrations that remind us of certain Spiritual maladies and deficiencies that each of us – sadly – posses due to our inherent and active sinfulness.   As God’s redeemed children, we want to be rid of them, since we do not enjoy struggling with them in connection with our lives of faith and faithfulness.

            On this Ash Wednesday  evening we are going to be “leading off” our 2021 midweek Lenten services with an examination of the affliction of Spiritual Astigmatism.   Physical astigmatism occurs when the curvature of a person’s eye is not right, which hinders that individual from seeing as clearly as he/she should.   In fact, the worse the astigmatism is, the blurrier and more uncertain the things you’re looking at appear.

            “Spiritual astigmatism” bears a striking similarity to that physical vision disorder.  The sinner – and that’s all of us, isn’t it? – naturally looks at his/her life (and God’s Word and Will) from an impaired perspective.   Our will, wishes and “needs” too often get in the way of the Lord’s expectations for us.   And, although He speaks to us clearly in his unerring Word, we just don’t always “get” what He is saying – even when it comes to some of the most basic teachings of Scripture dealing with God’s love, our sin, and His way of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.   And so we need a good, thorough Spiritual vision examination.   More than that, we need to repent of our Spiritual vision deficiencies and tendencies and rely on the “corrective lenses” of God’s grace in Christ and His Word.   God-enabling we will do that this evening, as the Holy Spirit enables us, speaking to us through the powerful and productive words of Hebrews 12:1-2, where will be encouraged to “fix our eyes on Jesus.”


The History and Meaning of Ash Wednesday


      Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian’s 40-day journey with the Lord to the cross and tomb to await the proclamation of Easter. The 40 days are reminiscent of several Biblical events: Jesus’ 40-day fast at the beginning of His ministry; Moses’ stay on Mt. Sinai at the giving of the law; Elijah’s fast on his way to the mountain of God.

      Ash Wednesday begins the Christian’s Lenten journey with a reminder of our mortality and a call to repentance. The ancient practice of imposing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful gives Ash Wednesday its name. The church father Tertullian (c160-215AD) writes of the practice as a public expression of repentance and of our human frailty that stands in need of Christ. The ashes remind us forcefully of our need for redeeming grace as they recall words from the liturgy for Christian burial: “…earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…,” words that will someday be spoken over us all. The imposition of ashes has never been an exclusively Roman Catholic practice (as some erroneously believe).  As a matter of adiaphora (things neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture), Christians in general are free to embrace this tradition, if they so choose, or to not practice it.  The custom, nevertheless, is worth noting.

      Ash Wednesday, as a particular observance of the liturgical Christian church (it was originally called dies cinerum, or “day of ashes”), probably dates to at least the 8th century, being mentioned in the earliest copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary, which originated in that period.  Another early description of Ash Wednesday is found in the writings of the Anglo-Saxon abbot Aelfric (955-1020).  In his Lives of the Saints, he writes, “We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.” Aelfric then proceeds to tell the tale of a man who refused to go to church for the ashes and was accidentally killed several days later in a boar hunt!  This quotation confirms what we know from other sources, that throughout the Middle Ages ashes were sprinkled on the head, rather than placed on the forehead as is usually done today.

      The pouring of ashes on one’s body (and dressing in sackcloth, a very rough material) as an outer manifestation of inner repentance or mourning is a very ancient practice.    It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.   What is probably the earliest occurrence is found at the very end of the book of Job.    Job, having been rebuked by God, confesses, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Other examples are found in 2 Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1,3, Isaiah 61:3, Jeremiah 6:26, Ezekiel 27:30, and Daniel 9:3. In the New Testament, Jesus alludes to the practice in Matthew 11:21: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been  performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

      In a very traditional Ash Wednesday observance, worshipers are invited to the altar to receive the imposition of ashes, prior to receiving the Lord’s Supper. The Pastor applies ashes in the shape of the cross on the forehead of each, while speaking the words, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). This is of course what God spoke to Adam and Eve after they had eaten the forbidden fruit and fallen into sin.   These words reveal the primary effect of our first parents’ sin on them and their descendants (us, included), namely death.   Thus, the Ash Wednesday imposition of ashes is yet another means of reminding worshipers of their sinfulness and mortality, and – obviously – their need to wholeheartedly repent of their sins.  The sign of the cross serves as a symbol  of the Good News that through Christ crucified we have full and free forgiveness for all our guilt, sin, and its punishment.

      The ashes used in the imposition, by custom traditionally come from the palms of  the previous year’s Palm Sunday procession.  The dried palms – having been kept for this purpose – are burned, and their ashes are sifted and mixed with a small amount of olive oil – not water.   This allows them to better adhere to a person’s forehead.  Drawing the ashes from a shallow bowl, the minister marks a cross of ashes on each person’s forehead using his thumb or forefinger, after which the individual returns to his/her seat.

      Ash Wednesday, as well as the season of Lent, is never mentioned in Scripture and so is not a worship occasion which God has commanded us to practice.   In our Christian freedom we may either observe it or not observe it.    Black paraments (altar coverings) can be utilized to emphasize the solemnity of Ash Wednesday, although the traditional penitential color of purple may also be used.



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,  

The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission.



Ash Wednesday Order of Worship


Silent Prayer                          


We Approach The Lord With Praise And Prayer


The Service Introduction and Invitation to Worship


at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation


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



The Opening Psalm:   Psalm 38


O LORD, rebuke me not in Your anger,   +   nor discipline me in Your wrath!    +   For Your arrows have sunk into me,   +    and Your hand has come down on me.    +    There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation.   +   there is no health in my bones because of my sin.   +   For my iniquities have gone over my head;   +   like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.


My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness.   +    I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;    +    All the day I go about mourning.    +     For my sides are filled with burning,   +   and there is no soundness in my flesh.   +    I am feeble and crushed;    +   I groan because of the tumult in my heart.  


O LORD, all my longing is before You;    +     my sighing is not hidden from You.    +     My heart throbs; my strength fails me;     +    And the light of my eyes – it also has gone from me.   +   My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,    +     my nearest kin stand far off.    +    Those who seek my life lay their snares,   +   those who seek my hurt speak of ruin   +   and meditate treachery all day long.


But I am like a deaf man;   +   I do not hear,   +     like a mute man who does  not open his mouth.    +    I have become like a man who does not hear,   +    and in whose mouth are no rebukes.    +    But for You, O LORD, do I wait;    +   it is You, O LORD my God, Who will answer.   +    For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,   +    Who boast against me when my foot slips.”


For I am ready to fall,   +   and my pain is ever before me.    +    I confess my iniquity;   +   I am sorry for my sin.   +    But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty;     +    and many are those who hate me wrongfully.    +     Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good.    +    Do not forsake me, O LORD!    +    O my God, do not be far from me!   +    Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation!


After which the Congregation may be seated for



Tonight’s Opening Hymn                                                                    Hymn 98 “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now”


1 Jesus, I will ponder now   On Your holy passion;

With Your Spirit me endow   For such meditation.

Grant that I in love and faith   May the image cherish

Of Your suff’ring, pain, and death  That I may not perish.


2 Make me see Your great distress,   Anguish, and affliction,

Bonds and stripes and wretchedness   And Your crucifixion:

Make me see how scourge and rod,   Spear and nails did wound You,

How for them You died, O God,  Who with thorns had crowned You.


3 Yet, O Lord, not thus alone   Make me see Your passion,

But its cause to me make known   And its termination.

Ah! I also and my sin   Wrought Your deep affliction;

This indeed the cause has been   Of Your crucifixion.


4 Grant that I Your passion view   With repentant grieving,

Let me not bring shame to You   By unholy living.

How could I refuse to shun   Ev’ry sinful pleasure

Since for me God’s only Son   Suffered without measure?

5 If my sins give me alarm   And my conscience grieve me,

Let Your cross my fear disarm;   Peace of conscience give me.

Help me see forgiveness won   By Your holy passion.

If for me He slays His Son,   God must have compassion!


6 Graciously my faith renew;    Help me bear my crosses,

Learning humbleness from You,   Peace mid pain and losses.

May I give You love for love!   Hear me, O my Savior,

That I may in heav’n above   Sing Your praise forever.



After which the Congregation will rise for


The Opening Exhortation


Pastor:   Brothers and sisters: God created us to know joy in communion with Him, to love all humanity, and to live in harmony with all creation. But sin separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation.  Consequently we cannot not enjoy the life our Creator intended for us.   Also, by our sin we grieve our Father, Who does not desire us to come under His judgment, but to turn to Him and live. Therefore, our gracious God in His mercy has sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take our place under the law – living for us the righteous life we do not live —  to suffer for us and to die the death we deserve.    God made Jesus, Who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

      During these forty days of Lent we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.    The period of Lent reminds us that, in order to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, we must also know the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.   As disciples of the Lord Jesus we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from our love for God and for our neighbor.   I invite you, therefore, to re-commit yourselves to this struggle and to join me in confessing your sins to our Father in heaven, asking Him for His forgiveness of all our sins as well as for the strength of faith to properly serve Him and enjoy His blessings.    Now, let us be silent.   Let us be still.    Let us pause here for a moment of spiritual reflection and self-examination.


Silence for reflection and self-examination over our individual sins



We Confess our Sins Before the Lord


P:   Most holy and merciful Father:

C:         We confess to You and to one another that we have sinned by our own grievous fault in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.


P:   We have not loved You with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.


C:   Have mercy on us, Lord.


P:   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 the Holy Spirit.


C:   Have mercy on us, Lord.


P:   We confess to You, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness. The pride, hypocrisy, and impatience in our lives:


C:   We confess these sins to You, O Lord.


P:   Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, our manipulation of other people:


C:   Forgive us, O Lord.


P:   Our anger when our selfish aims are denied, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves:


C:   We confess to You, O Lord, our disobedience.


P:   Our love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work:


C:   Forgive us, Lord, for our many transgressions.

P:   Our negligence in worship and prayer, and our failure to show the faith that is in us:


C:   Lord, we admit that we have sinned against You.


P:   Forgive us, Lord, for the wrongs we have done. For our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty:


C:   Have mercy upon us, gracious O Lord.

P:         For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward others, and for our prejudice and contempt for those who differ from us:


C:   Forgive us, O Lord, for we have sinned against You.

P:         For what we think or say or do that is at variance with Your will:


C:   We confess our repeated failures to be righteous in Your sight, O Lord.


P:   Restore us, good Lord, and let Your anger depart from us.


C:   Hear us, Lord, for Your mercy is great. Amen.


P:   Accomplish in us, O God, the work of Your salvation,


C:   that we may show forth Your glory in the world.

P:         As we meditate upon the cross and passion of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ,


C:  O Lord, bring us, also, with all Your saints to the celebration of His resurrection and the certainty of our salvation.   Amen.



Pastor        Upon this, your voluntary confession, and in accordance with the responsibilities entrusted to me as a called and ordained servant of the Living Word, I assure you that God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven you all your sins.   By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt and condemnation forever.   You are His own dear child –  an heir of everlasting life through faith in Christ.   May God now give you the strength of faith to live according to His will.   Go in His grace and peace.   Amen.



After which the Congregation may be seated



We Meditate On God’s Word


The account of Jesus’ Passion as it is recorded for us through a

harmony of the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.


Tonight’s Reading: Jesus’ Readiness to Suffer and Die



The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. Jesus said to his disciples,

“You know that after two days it will be the Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas. They plotted together how to arrest Jesus in some deceitful way and kill him. But they said, “Not during the Festival, or else there might be a riot among the people.”

      Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve. He went away and spoke with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard about how he could betray Jesus to them. They were glad and agreed to give him money. He promised to do it and was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus to them away from the crowd.   On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and there a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Wherever he enters, tell

the owner of the house that the Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

      They went and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, Jesus reclined at the table with the twelve apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

      A dispute arose among the disciples about which of them was considered to be greatest. But he told them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called Benefactors. But it is not to be that way with you. Instead, let the greatest among you become like the youngest, and the one who leads like

the one who serves. For who is greater, one who reclines at the table or one who serves? Isn’t it the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have remained with me in my trials. I am going to grant a kingdom to you, just as my Father granted to me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.  And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

      Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved those who were his own in the world, he loved them to the end.  By the time the supper took place, the Devil had already put the idea into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God. He got up from the supper and laid aside his outer garment. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

      He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but later you will understand.” Peter told him, “You will never, ever, wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” “Lord, not just my feet,” Simon Peter replied, “but also my hands and my head!” Jesus told him, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet, but his body is completely clean. And youb are clean, but not all of you.” Indeed, he knew who was going to betray him. That is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

      After Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer garment, he reclined at the table again. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me Teacher and Lord. You are right, because I am. Now if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. Yes, I have given you an example so that you also would do just as I have done for you. Amen, Amen,  I tell you:  A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  He took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves, for I

tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”


The Sermon Hymn:                                                                                                    Hymn 129   “Alas and Did My Savior Bleed”

1 Alas! and did my Savior bleed,   And did my Sov’reign die?

Would He devote that sacred head   For such a worm as I?


2 Was it for crimes that I had done   He groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity, grace unknown,   And love beyond degree!


3 Well might the sun in darkness hide   And shut his glories in

When God, the mighty Maker, died   For his own creatures’ sin.


4 Thus might I hide my blushing face   While His dear cross appears,

Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,   And melt mine eyes to tears.


5 But drops of grief can ne’er repay   The debt of love I owe;

Here, Lord, I give myself away:   ‘Tis all that I can do.     Amen. 




Tonight’s Meditation                                     based on Hebrews 12:1-2


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us get rid of every burden and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with patient endurance the race that is laid out for us. 2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author of our faith and the one who brings it to its goal. In view of the joy set before him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of God’s throne.


Fix Your Eyes On Jesus!



We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord  


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate during this evening’s serv ice, those in attendance may choose to leave their offerings in the plates  by the exit door at the close of tonight’s service.

For those watching this worship  service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:  

1) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to the church address

(415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can also visit our website (www.gracelutherannwa.com) and use the giving option there.



At the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


Our Prayers for Others


The Prayer for this Evening


The Lord’s Prayer             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.     And lead us not into temptation,     but deliver us from evil;     for Thine is the kingdom,   and the power,  and the glory,   forever and ever.   Amen.


We Conclude Tonight’s Worship Service


The Benediction


P:   May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.   Amen.



The Closing Hymn:                                                                                        Hymn 592  “All Praise to Thee, My God This Night”

 All praise to thee, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light!

Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,   beneath thine own almighty wings.

 Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,  the ill that I this day have done,

that with the world, myself, and thee,   I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.


Teach me to live, that I may dread   the grave as little as my bed.

Teach me to die, that so I may   rise glorious at the judgment day.

O may my soul on thee repose,   and with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,

sleep that may me more vigorous make   to serve my God when I awake.


When in the night I sleepless lie   My soul with h eav’nly thoughts supply

Let no ill dreams disturb my rest    No powers of darkness me distress

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;  praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heavenly host;   praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.    Amen.


Silent prayer