Henkle Family Ash Wednesday

My daughter is 4 and a half, and she loves Easter like many kids love Christmas. I’m not really sure why, but I suppose it has something to do with her love for bunnies and candy. She asks at least once a week all year long when Easter is coming. I am hoping to give her (and our whole family) a little more context for Easter this year as we observe Lent together. I’m kind of making it up as I go, but we started yesterday with Ash Wednesday.

Since our church didn’t do anything special for Ash Wednesday, we had our own Ash Wednesday service in our living room yesterday. We used the Book of Common Prayer as a guide and simplified or defined words as we went along. The kids especially liked getting the cross of ashes on their heads.

Ash Wednesday, simply put, is about being sorry for our sins. The ashes on our foreheads remind us of our frailty and mortality. As we read through the Ash Wednesday “Litany of Penitence,” Raya interrupted several times to ask questions. We did our best to explain that we are all sinners, and we need Jesus to forgive us. I am learning that explaining things like sin and forgiveness to a 4-year-old makes me understand it even more fully.

Traditionally, Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As a family, we are going to keep it simple as we Pray, Fast and Give… We talked together about what we wanted to do and here’s what we came up with:

IMG_20160210_210625649Pray – we’re going to add a family prayer time at breakfast

Fast – Raya decided she would be willing to give up buying toys

Give – She also decided we would donate some toys and clothes. Her first idea was to give away her brother’s trucks. We’ll have to talk more about that one as we go! 🙂

This year for Lent, I’m hoping to post some Lenten hymns like I’ve done in the past. I’ll also keep you posted about what we come up to observe Lent as a family.



Ash Wednesday Litany & Hymn

Something about the seasons of the church brings out the blogger in me. Here’s what we’re planning to this afternoon in lieu of an Ash Wednesday service. But let’s be honest… our kids are little. We’ll get through some of it, and then they’ll start running around the house! It’s worth a try, though…

Raya putting ashes on the Dad last year


Read Psalm 51

Ash Wednesday Hymn

Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesday’s Ashes

Text: Rae E. Whitney

Tune: BEACH SPRING attr. to B.F. White


Litany of Penitence  (from the Book of Common Prayer)

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

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.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

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 your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentence, Lord, for the wrongs we have done, for our blindess to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9


Two years ago last week, my Grandma Leone passed away. She was a woman of incredible faith. She was a voracious reader. She was a prayer warrior. She was lots of fun. She always had Nutty Bars at her house when we came to visit. I loved being around her and looked up to her my entire life. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma the past few days. One of her deepest desires was for her kids and grand-kids come to know Jesus Christ the way she knew him. As Lord of her life. As a constant companion and guide. As her Savior. She prayed… and she flooded us with an abundance of Christian books, movies and tapes that became the narrative and soundtrack of my childhood. Some people can quote lines from movies and are well versed in the pop music of their childhood. I am clueless about that stuff, but play the opening song from  Adventures in Odyssey and I am right there with you.

At some point, my grandma sent us a copy of GT and the Halo Express. Anyone else remember this? It’s a story of a quarreling brother and sister who are visited by angels who help them learn how to get along. Along the way, there are a bunch of Bible verses set to music. The theme song tells listeners that “memorizing can be fun!” This tape was probably purchased by lots of parents and grandparents who hoped the little people in their lives would hear and believe. And it totally worked on me. I loved this tape. I remember listening to it on my Walkman in the back of the van on family trips. I knew every word of the story and the songs.

I thought about GT last week as I was thinking about Grandma Leone and decided to look for it. It is still around, and I found it right away on YouTube. Take a listen here if you’re looking for some late 80s Christian entertainment. I still remember every single word and it was an instant hit with my kids. I was grooving along to the cheesy rendition of John 3:16… For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall no perish but have eternal life… Suddenly, my 4 year old stopped dancing and exclaimed “I believe in him!” She told me she wanted Jesus to live in her heart. 

Later that night, my husband and I prayed with her and she did the very thing my grandma, my parents, my husband and I had been praying about since before she was born. She asked Jesus into her heart. It was such a simple and beautiful moment that caught me by surprise. I can’t help but think of my Grandma Leone’s legacy. Of her prayers for her family. Of the tapes and books she sent to us hoping we would hear or read something that would stick. Of her life of faith that continues to impact generations who will never know her.

Grandma and Raya Praise meeting for the first time.

My grandma understood something that I am only beginning to realize. I spend so much time on things that have no eternal significance. But leaving a legacy of faith for my children, for their children, for their children’s children is something that will live on long after I am gone.

Below is a link to an arrangement of a hymn my cousin Sarah and I sang at her funeral. We miss you, Grandma Leone!

Easter Hymns: Awake, Glad Soul

Words: John S. B. Monsell, 1857

Music: Rachel Henkle, 2015

Click to listen:

 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-24198G" data-link="(G)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 
Matthew 28:5-6

He is RISEN!

I hope you have a blessed day celebrating Jesus resurrection. We are looking forward to a morning at church and an afternoon with family. Looks like the weather is going to be beautiful and I am anticipating another epic Henkle Easter Egg Hunt!

I had an interesting thing happen to me on Thursday night at band practice for this morning’s service. We made a few changes to the song list for the day, and wanted to add one more worship song to our list. We flipped through our songs looking for something upbeat, familiar and fun and chose an old hymn that seemed to fit nicely. But as we sang through it, I realized that the song mentioned Jesus’ life on earth, his prayer in the garden, his walk to Calvary and his death on the cross, and then the glorious day when believers see Jesus face to face heaven. I have sung this song many times, but I never noticed what it doesn’t include. The song skips right over the resurrection. 

So, I went home and googled “Easter Hymns” and one of the first things I found on one of my favorite hymn websites was a list of no less than 312 Easter Hymns. I didn’t have to scroll down the list very far to find the song I posted today. It just might be my new favorite.

Traditionally, Easter marks the end of a six week period of fasting and preparation. My community prepared for Easter with services each day during Holy Week. I was moved by the chance to gather together and focus our attention on the cross. I have been immersed in Lenten hymns during my little project on the blog and I finished the season of Lent with a greater understanding of my certain death without Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the price for my sin. And that to has given me moments of worship and gratitude and awe for Jesus, my Savior.

But isn’t it strange that we prepare and fast and focus for six weeks on Jesus suffering and death, only to have Easter Sunday come and go like the 5-minute free-for-all egg hunt we attended this morning with our kids? When we were searching for an song to add to our worship set, I realized that our body of music is very focused on the cross, the death of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong – that is so important. But, it seems that we are not singing about the fact that JESUS IS ALIVE nearly as much as we are singing about him dying. 

I don’t know if your church has the same skew, but I believe that what we sing affects what we believe and know. Jesus’ death and resurrection must go hand in hand. One does not make sense without the other. As cheesy at it sounds, Christians should be celebrating, talking about, and living in light of Easter all year long. This is the event that changed the course of human history forever. 

It turns out that the church calendar helps us extend the celebration for more than just one day a year. Today marks the beginning of the Easter season, and it lasts for the next 50 days. If you have any influence over what your congregation sings, think about keeping the Easter hymns and songs in the rotation during the next 7 Sundays. Once you know a bunch of great Resurrection songs, keep singing them throughout the year. I am planning to post some more Easter hymns on the blog during the next 50 days as well.

If you went to church today, what songs did you sing? Do you have any favorite Easter hymns? Let me know in the comments below!

Christ, the Life of All the Living – guest post by Chris Tripolino

Original German Text: Ernst C. Homburg, 1659
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863

The hymn today is from my good friend Chris Tripolino. Check out his website at christripolino.com and enjoy this excellent Lenten hymn.

Christ the life of all the living
Christ the death of death our foe
Who himself for me once giving
To the darkest depths of woe
That as yours, then you might have me
And have truest treasure for me
Praise and glory ever be
To him who loved, yes even me

You O Christ have taken on you
bonds and stripes a cruel rod
pain and scorn were heaped upon you
Oh sinless Son of God
Comfortless once you did languish
Me to comfort in my anguish
Praise and glory ever be
To him who loved, yes even me

Praise and glory ever be
To him who loved, yes even me

Lenten Silence – guest post by Tempa Haines

          I am many things. I am a teacher. I am a friend. I am a fan of Diet Coke with Lime. I am a lover of monkeys and words and correct grammar. I am a hater of egos and running and meatloaf. Ew, meatloaf!! I am a singer, a giggler, a guitar player- “functional, at best.” However, some of these things are changeable, assuming I out grow them… or my tastes evolve… or my life takes me down a different path, but there is one thing that I think will never change. I am a talker. I always have been.  Growing up, my parents were never shocked to hear “Tempa is quite friendly, isn’t she?” as a lead-in to the bad behavior conversation at parent-teacher conferences. Most people were kind and called me things like a “social butterfly” or commented on how I “make friends easily”, but really… I talked too much. I still do!! I process emotion verbally… actually, I process everything verbally. I just talk a lot.

            I think that’s probably why I like words. It’s hard not to love something you use so frequently, right? As an adult, I find myself talking all the time. All. The. Time.  In teaching, in texting, in chatting with friends. Unfortunately, my Chatty-Kathy nature doesn’t end with my job or my time with those with whom I share my life. I find myself filling even my prayer life with my own words. A lot of words, although usually inside my own head, scrambled in some adjective-heavy Word Burrito. I sit down to pray, but it ends with me telling God all the ideas I have that might “fix” all my issues or making a to-do list of the things I need to accomplish in order to overcome an obstacle. I sit down to listen, but all I’m doing is filling the empty space reserved for HIS words with my own. It’s the truth… my “Quiet Time” is rarely quiet.

            If I’m being 100% honest with you, quiet is unnatural to me. I have slept with the radio on for as long as I can remember. I often turn on my Ipod when I study for things or read. I turn on the TV when I walk into a room. Not because I want to watch the newest episode of “Say Yes to the Dress”, but because I need some sort of audio wallpaper. I need sound, need to hear SOMETHING. I think it’s because the silence scares me. Maybe there’s something in silence that makes me feel alone… and I don’t like that. Not one bit. 

           But yet I know the Lord asks us to “Be Still” (Psalm 46:10) and I know that Scripture is riddled with commands to “wait” and “be silent”. (Ex 14:14, Ps 37:7, Ps 62:5, Lam 3:26…etc)So silence in itself can not be a bad thing. In fact, I have no doubt that the discipline of silence is probably something that we all should utilize from time to time. Even us “talkers”.  As with anything, practice makes perfect, right? So, this year, during the Lenten season, I wanted to do just that… practice the discipline of Silence. I wanted to learn what it feels like to just be quiet. Be Still. 

            So, I sat down at my kitchen table a few weeks ago and prepared my heart (and my mind) for… well, nothing.  Homemade iced caramel macchiato in hand, I thanked the Lord for the desire to seek stillness and I asked Him to speak. I asked for the strength to just sit and listen. I asked for the courage to be still.

            Friends, I wish I could tell you that this was easy. I wish I could say that I relished in God’s voice and I was given a peace and comfort that I had not yet experienced… but that would be a lie. It was hard. I could barely keep my mind from reviewing my plans for the day or replaying a conversation I had with a new friend the night before. It was hard to not check my phone to see if I had missed a text message and hard not to begin over-thinking my own faults and short-comings. Stillness was hard and, honestly, I probably wasted the first few minutes of the first few days catching myself doing exactly what I set out NOT to do. But, eventually, over the course of the last 33 days, my mind stilled and I was able to focus on the One who continues to call me to Himself.

 I was still.

I was silent.

And I was refreshed.

                                    “…a time to be silent and a time to speak…” Ecclesiastes 3:7b

Tempa Haines is Director of Youth Ministries at Trinity Bible Church in Cedar Falls Iowa  www.cedarfallstrinity.org  She is in the process of writing a book with the hopes of being finished by Fall 2015.

Palm Sunday: Ride On, Ride On in Majesty

Text: Henry H. Milman, 1827

Tune: CHICKAHOMINY, Henry B. Hays, 1981
From Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Click here to listen:

As a child I loved Palm Sunday morning. All the Sunday School kids would proudly march down the aisles of our church, waving branches and singing a song with Hosanna! as one of the lyrics. I always thought Palm Sunday was a celebration – and it is. But it marks the beginning of one of the most dramatic weeks in human history that I was not able to understand when I was waving palm branches as a kid.

This Sunday’s hymn captures the irony of Palm Sunday. The people are joyfully hailing the King that they will crucify less than a week later. Luke’s account of Jesus entering Jerusalem says that the people “began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'” Luke 19:37b-38.

Jesus is the King of Kings. He was welcomed into Jerusalem as a king, but he never ruled from an earthly throne. The hymn says he came in lowly pomp. He rode into Jerusalem in a parade of praise, but he knew he had come to Jerusalem to die. Christ first bows his head and submits to the cross before he takes his seat at the right hand of God to reign as King. The adoring crowds did not anticipate this type of king when they were waving the branches and shouting. And only days later, the crowds were not shouting “Hosanna” but “Crucify.” How quickly we change our tune when things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would.

I didn’t really understand Palm Sunday as a child, but I realize that I don’t really fully understand it as an adult. The King of Kings chose to finish his time on earth in such an unexpected way. It was unexpected from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate today, to the washing of his disciples’ feet that we commemorate on Maundy Thursday, to his death and apparent defeat on Friday. And then his unexpected resurrection from the tomb on Easter day. I pray that the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to the mystery and the irony of the humble, meek Savior bowing his head to die for our sins, and prepare us for the week ahead as we commemorate his passion and resurrection.

Ride on, ride on in majesty 
as all the crowds “Hosanna!” cry; 
through waving branches slowly ride, 
O Savior, to be crucified. 
Ride on, ride on in majesty, 
in lowly pomp ride on to die; 
O Christ, your triumph now begin 
o’er captive death and conquered sin! 
Ride on, ride on in majesty, 
the last and fiercest foe defy; 
the Father on his sapphire throne 
awaits his own anointed Son. 
Ride on, ride on in majesty, 
in lowly pomp ride on to die; 
bow your meek head to mortal pain, 
then take, O God, your power and reign!