These are the prayers we will be praying and the invitation I will extend as our congregation gathers for the Ash Wednesday service this evening.
Prayer of the Day
Gracious God, in love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to love you and our neighbors. Strengthen us to face our mortality, the limitations of our nature, and the many ways we fall short of your calling upon our lives. Grant us to live in the faith of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Invitation to Lent
The early Christians marked the days of Jesus’ death and resurrection with great devotion, and it became the Church’s custom to prepare for them by observing a season of repentance and fasting. This was called “Lent,” which means “springtime,” reminding us of the season in which the life of God’s creation is renewed.
This season of Lent provided a time in which new believers were prepared for Holy Baptism on Easter. It was also a time when those who had been separated from the church were invited to return and be renewed in their faith. In these ways, the whole congregation was reminded of the gospel’s promise of forgiveness and new life, and of the continual need we all have for spiritual refreshment.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of Jesus, to join us in observing a good Lent. Let us examine ourselves before God. Let us return to God in those areas where we have strayed. Let us turn to him in prayer and renew holy habits. Let us abstain from choices that dull our need of Christ. Let us read and meditate on the Scriptures. Let us gather together to encourage one another to love and good deeds.
Tonight, as a right beginning in this penitential season, let us come before the Lord our Maker and Redeemer, confess our sins, and receive the cross-shaped mark that reminds us of our mortality and our need of the resurrection life of Jesus.
Merciful God, accompany us on our journey through these forty days. Renew us in the gift of baptism, that we may die to self daily and rise to walk in newness of life. Strengthen us to fast from all indulgence, to pray for all in need, and to provide for those who are poor. Above all may we find our treasure in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
• • •
Photo by rpphotos at Flickr. Creative Commons License