(5 March 2014, 18 Feb. 2015)
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hates nothing that you have made and forgives the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Joel 2:12-17; Psalm 57; James 5:1-10; Matthew 6:16-21
After three Sundays of preparation, the season of Lent finally begins on Ash Wednesday with a moving solemn proclamation from the prophet Joel announcing a time of fasting and repentance in which we are called to rend our hearts, and not our garments. The Gospel reading contains some of Jesus’ teaching about how to fast appropriately, and the Psalm gives us an example of what a prayer of repentance should look like. And, in case we need help thinking of ways in which we are sinful, the epistle reading from the book of James juxtaposes common sins associated with wealth and luxury against the call to Christian patience. The Collect, meanwhile, takes up a more general theme of contrasting our utter sinfulness against God’s merciful love, so as to serve as daily prayer through the entire Lenten season.