The First day of Lent,(From the Book of Common Prayer, 1662; many Lutherans and Anglicans will pray a modernised version of this prayer in services today.)
Commonly called Ash-Wednesday.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive 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 thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This Collect is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.
"The Scriptures present to us two kinds of true fasting: one, by which we try to bring the flesh into subjection to the spirit, of which St. Paul speaks in 2 Cor 6,5: "In labors, in watchings, in fastings." The other is that which we must bear patiently, and yet receive willingly because of our need and poverty, of which St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor 4, 11: "Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst," and Christ in Mt 9,15: "When the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then will they fast." This kind of fasting Christ teaches us here while in the wilderness alone without anything to eat, and while he suffers his penury without murmuring. The first kind of fasting, one can end whenever he wills, and can satisfy it by food; but the other kind we must observe and bear until God himself changes it and satisfies us. Hence it is much more precious than the first, because it moves in greater faith."Martin Luther, Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent; Matthew 4:1-11 [taken from volume II:133-147 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI)].
May God grant a holy and blessed Lent to all visitors to 'the old manse'!
Oh, and for those of us who have morning Ash Wednesday services with the imposition of ashes: why not accept the Ash Wednesday challenge? Don't wipe it off!