Please excuse me for not putting in today's readings. Several in the family are sick and one cousin wrecked her car so my attention was diverted.
Ash Wednesday is the fast day which begins Lent in the west. Lent is 46 days to allow for 40 days of fasting. (We do not fast on Sundays because they are days in which we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach and so are feast days)
Lent was originally the final time of preparation to prepare catechumates for baptism, the end of a three year process. In time it also became a time in which people who were excommunicated were prepared to renter communion with the church. Eventually it became a time in which all Christians made special restitution for their sins.
Traditionally, Lent follows Shrove Tuesday. On Shrove Tuesday, Christians would go to their priest or anamchara for confession and receive absolution (In Old English, the priest would "Shrive" them, hence the term Shrove Tuesday, "Shrove" being past tense of "Shrive"). As part of the process of absolution, the person would receive a penance assigned to them by the priest or Anamachra. The penance would begin on Ash Wednesday and end on the Saturday before Easter.
Traditionally we refrain from meat and animal products during Lent, and those who wish to follow a stricter practice will abstain from food on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. We have no fixed rule, but we do encourage our congregation to abstain from pleasures during Lent, whether they be food, television or whatever. Time or money saved should go to charity or to the church. Many who fast use the money they save to contribute to the local food bank. Time saved by not watching TV might be used to study ones Bible, or take some time out to visit your neighbours and tell them about Christ. Lent should not be just about restrictions, but about doing positive things for Christ ans well.
Epistle 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Gospel Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you 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 receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness of our sins. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, now and forever. Amen.