The God of All Mercy
The Collect for Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate 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 wretchedness,
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.
I love the simplicity of this prayer on what can feel like a weighty and complicated day. As we begin the season of Lent I always feel pressure to get off to a good start. Did I pray? Did I remember my fast? Do I feel like my heart is in the right place as I go about my day? Am I doing this right?
This prayer shifts the focus away from our activity and intentions and toward a loving God who is eager to forgive. He is able to do in us all the things that cannot produce in ourselves. And he desires to do it for us.
You do not need to convince God not to “smite” you by your piety. You do not earn holiness by fasting and prayer. All that is required of us this day is an honest and whole-hearted response to the generous invitation of God who offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our sins and toward him.
Hear the invitation to the season of Lent, with its call to repentance and reorienting disciplines, as coming from a Father who loves you, the Son who gave his life for you, and the Spirit who enables true repentance and renewal. Amen.