Ash Wednesday: Seven Deadly Sins

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent.  South Church ( will hold its Ash Wednesday worship service in our sanctuary at 7:30 our sanctuary around the theme, the Seven Deadly Sins.  Their origins in the early Catholic church, the seven deadly sins have evolved over time to now include: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust envy and gluttony.  Someone joked that we would identify a section in the sanctuary for each sin, and those attending the service could sit in the area of their “favorite” or most troublesome sin.  That’s not what we are going to do.

There will be a time in the service where people will read contemporary headlines or soundbites associated with each sin.  For example for lust someone might say, “Two men in New Britain were arrested for making child pornography in their home,” and “John Edwards admitted paternity of the child he fathered with his mistress.”  The last of the series would bring that sin from “out there” into the lives of the individuals in the pews, for example for lust, someone might say “75% of people surveyed said it was OK for someone to visit an adult website.”  To be effective the first several of these soundbites should evoke outrage or disgust, and the last one should invite those in worship to see that they share these same human failings.  After each sin is explored in this way, there will be a symbolic burning of that sin followed by a sung or chanted response by the congregation.  After all the sins have been named and expiated in this way, congregants will be invited forward to be marked with the ashes that were created by burning the sins.  A restorative communion service will follow.

I ask your help in identifying the headlines or soundbites to be used for each sin.  It seems like some will be more obvious than others (wrath, greed, lust, gluttony), the others a bit more challenging.  What do you think?

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 3:25 am  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Here are the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, avarice (greed), sloth, wrath, envy, pride.

  2. George,

    Whenever I hear the 7 Deadly Sins mentioned, I think about the movie Seven. I don’t generally enjoy watching that type of movie, but all my friends were going. Unless I wanted to sit alone in my dorm room, that was what I needed to watch. It was graphic and disturbing, but was also a very interesting look at the 7 sins. In the movie, a serial killer identifies 7 people who are guilty of one of the sins and then uses that sin to kill them. If you have the stomach for it, you might want to rent it. I assure you — you’ll never hear about the sins the same way after that.

    I’ll be looking for appropriate headlines!


  3. I agree, Kristin. I saw that movie when it came out, Like you, I don’t usually have the stomach for graphic serial killer movies, but it was very well done and thought provoking. I might see if I can find a copy in preparing foe Ash Wednesday. The service is coming together nicely.

  4. I am truly looking forward to the Ash Wednesday Service. I must say that this topic has prompted me not only to look at myself, but at society as a whole, and the desensititization that I feel takes place in this technological age. It even seems sometimes that we idolize and glorify the greedy and the slothful.

    We live in a society that “supersizes” only to spend millions on weight loss programs.
    We love when the hero or heroine seeks revenge for the wrongs done against them in a movie, and the more gruesome the ending for the villian, the more justification we feel, thus, the better the movie.
    Now i know most people realize that this behavior is not societally acceptable, but we enjoy it anyway.

    I know for me, it is going to be interesting to explore how the seven sins affect my life everyday. I know they do, I am guilty of eating too much, being lazy, being very prideful and stubborn, and certainly being angry and taking it out on people.
    I look forward to leaving the service with an enriched perspective on being human, and a desire to at least recognise my shortcomings in an effort to improve myself.

    Great topic for the first day of lent!

  5. These are great examples, Robin. I am also looking forward to the service. See you there!

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