A Collaborative Project with The Free Methodist Liturgical Network
& The Justice Network of the FMC
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent: a time of penitence, prayer, and fasting. Too often, we have limited this to a personal experience. This Litany calls us as Free Methodists into our corporate identity as Christ’s Body. Here as a community, we repent not only individually but corporately, and not only for personal sins, but for systemic sins of racial injustice and our participation in them.
On Ash Wednesday we are marked with ashes in the shape of a cross, a sign of our mortality and of God’s great love. The downward stroke signals the mark of death on our lives, a mark we do not bear alone because of Christ’s death on the cross. The horizontal stroke signals God’s great love, love that empowers us to bear the suffering of others, to acknowledge our participation in systems of injustice, and to live in solidarity with the oppressed.
As we observe Lent, we remember the kind of fasting God desires: to loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, and set the oppressed free, to share our food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter, to clothe the naked and not turn away from our own flesh and blood (Isaiah 58:6).
May this litany, the laments, and the accompanying reflections serve as an invitation to self-examination and repentance, to heed the voices of those who have suffered racial injustice, and to lament with humility and true fasting. We invite you to use these prayers at Ash Wednesday, and each week in Lent as you read reflections from other Free Methodists on these themes. And in so doing, may God’s Holy Spirit prepare us for the feast of Easter.