Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

Ash Wednesday

16 Feb 2021, noon

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Lent is the time of year when the Church calls on Christians to take part in a period of Spiritual Discipline for 40 days that ends with the great celebration of Easter. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday when, in days of old, it was the tradition to use up all the goodies in the pantry and have a feast before Lent began as Lent used to be a time of fasting.

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday is the day when children and adults would go to Church to confess their sins and receive the mark of ash on the forehead, as a sign that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. Here are some traditional prayers:

Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin through the death of your Son and bring us to healing and wholeness.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are repentant: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that as we lament our sins and acknowledge our unhappiness, that you, the God of all mercy, grant us forgiveness through Jesus.

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be a sacrifice for sin and an example of godly life: give us grace that we may thankfully receive his gifts then undertake to follow in the blessed steps of his most holy life.

This year, during the time of Pandemic, it is not possible to come to our Church to make our confession and receive the ashes, so instead we ask you to make your confession at home. For true freedom comes when we recognise our sin, are sorry for our shortfalls, confess them to God and ask God to help us change. For, no matter how bad we are, what is truly remarkable is that God loves every sinner who turns back to Him and when even one sinner repents Jesus said that the angels rejoice in heaven. So, let us pray: For all my sins Lord, I am sorry and ashamed, I know I do not deserve your forgiveness, so I come to you trusting in your loving mercy and grace, asking: Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen