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Morning Prayer

Prayer, Bible Reading and Devotional Thoughts

First Day of Lent

Alternate Name:

Ash Wednesday

Historical Note:

Ash Wednesday got its name from the early practice of clergy and the people sprinkling themselves with dust and ashes, in token of their perishableness and their repentance, with the words: "Remember, O man, that dust you are, and to dust you must return; repent, that you may inherit eternal life."

Lenten Note:

Lent was the first season to be established in the Christian calendar. It's roots can be traced to very early in the history of the Church, but it took solid form in the fourth century. Its premier position, antiquity and importance in the history of the Church underscore its value.

Interestingly, the word Lent, which is the shortened version of Lenten, has no Christian or religious meaning. In fact it comes from an Anglo-Saxon word for "spring" and is related to the English word lengthen. During this period the hours of daylight lengthen.

Lent is a 40 day period leading up to Easter. It has come to be identified with Christ's 40 day trial in the wilderness, which is related to the 40 days of fasting by both Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets. The number 40 also represents the hours from Christ's death to the first sighting of the resurrected Lord.

If you count the calendar days you will find there are actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Since Lent is a "fast," Sundays are not counted because it is inappropriate to "fast" on the day we remember Christ's resurrection -- in every way a day of feasting.

Lent is a time of inward reflection as the Lessons and Collects will teach during this season.

Usage Note:

The Collect may be used throughout Lent.


Contrition and forgiveness.

Design for Worship:

Today's Design for Worship teaches that we should be repentant, to the point of fasting, weeping and mourning, for the sin in our lives, for we cannot serve both the lusts of the flesh and follow the will of the Father.

Epistle Lesson:

Joel 2: 12-17

Gospel Lesson:

Matthew 6: 16-21

Revised Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, You hate nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who truly repent: Create in us new hearts and make them contrite, so that honestly lamenting our sins and acknowledging our misery, we may receive from You, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Original Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that you hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.