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Ash Wednesday

Let us pray in silence for grace to keep Lent faithfully.


Almighty and merciful God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent;
create in us new and contrite hearts,
so that when we turn to you and confess our sins
we may receive your full and perfect forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever. Amen.

A reflection on this Ash Wednesday collect/opening prayer is found here

A reading from the gospel according to Matthew Chapter 6 beginning at verse 1.

6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ash Wednesday – A Service for the Beginning of Lent
A few simple suggestion during Lent
What is Lent – especially translating it to the Southern Hemisphere

Some ideas for Lent:

  • Tweet less; Facebook less; blog less
  • Pray more; read more; meditate more
  • Do less; go to less meetings; have less meetings at church
  • spend more time with friends, with family, with those you find difficult
  • Go out less; have less/no coffees; drink less/no wine
  • Give away the money you save
  • Give away the money you save plus (##)%
  • visit the sick; write letters; start a journal

Add your reflections on the collect/opening prayer; your thoughts on the gospel reading; your ideas for Lent – in the comments section

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3 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday”

  1. I find your list of ideas for lent interesting. These are consistent with my own thoughts about lent: slowing down, removing a seemingly necessary indulgence or giving time & money. Over the past few years I’ve noticed more ‘positive’ applications. Donating time to charity, planting trees, raising money, stocking food banks and joining environmental groups are all advertisements I’ve seen. A unique thread through all of these are a focus on a group – the idea being to make lent a fun, approachable, social time. Last year I saw some teenagers giving testimonials about this ‘new’ approach to lent saying that ‘they didn’t know lent could be fun’. At first this comment turned my stomach a little but these programs had record numbers of people involved. Record numbers of young people interested in lent, and Jesus. Surely that can’t be a bad thing…..can it?? For me lent has always been an individual journey, not a group experience. A time for self reflection and direction. But as I read somewhere else on this site, lent is not simply another personal development course.

    My comments for lent rest here: What does it mean to observe lent in 2010? Should the church become more dynamic? Is the necessary end result just to get more people in the pews? At risk of sounding deontological…do the ends justify the means?

    … I think not. I’m still quite lost about what lent is going to represent for me this year but making it a social event seems discordant with the spirit of this season. But perhaps I’m just being traditionalist.


  2. This season is a time of deep introspection for me as I sum up and carefully realize and examine my faults and sins, and the shortcomings in my spiritual life and relationship with God. It is a profound time when I feel that God’s Grace, which I need, is near as I bring my sorrow and repentance to God and ask for forgiveness through His Son. The discipline of Lent slowly unfolds a process of personal accountability that starts with recognition which leads to remorse, then repentance and finally reconciliation.

    It is a time of spiritual gifts really, when, in being thorough before God and imploring His great mercy, the path is once again cleared and the strength to renew oneself in Christian determination can be anticipated throughout Lent and then assured through the joy and meaning of Easter.

    Quaker Anne

  3. In the past I have given up material things. This year I was moved to give up the past. To turn it to ashes as I turn my face towards God. I realized that the past was hampering my present and my future. Trom this perspective, I will also continue to work on my relationships with my loved ones.

    I hope to approach Easter as a new person, cleansed and ready for a rebirth.

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