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Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent

posted 5 Mar 2014, 07:50 by Dean Fostekew
At the Church of the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield we mark the start of Lent by holding two services of Holy Communion with the rite of ashing at 10am and 7.30pm. The services are stark and penitential, and the stripped back church interior adds to the harshness of this penitential season. Walking into the body of the church today and seeing only two candles on the altar rather than six caught me unaware and made me reflect on the austerity of this season. Lent is a time to give things up and to reflect upon the blessings one has received, with thanksgiving. Seeing the church less decorated; no altar frontal, no flowers and few candles really brings this home.

Throughout Lent, alongside other prayers and collects we daily pray the collect for Ash Wednesday - it is a good prayer to use as a focus for meditation and reflection during Lent.

Almighty and everlasting God, you despise nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our brokenness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.