Ember days - from the Latin "QuattuorTempora" meaning "Four Seasons" - are traditional days of fasting and almsgiving for Western Christians.
The Four Embertides coincide with changes in the seasons and have been used by farmers to determine planting and harvesting times. Ember days fall on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the prescribed week:

Winter: St. Lucy Day (December 13) 
Spring: Invocabit, The first Sunday in Lent
Summer:  Pentecost
Fall: Holy Cross Day (September 14)

A Lutheran suggestion to the practice of fasting can be found here 
These readings are meant to be part of the Divine Service, but of themselves serve as a good addition to fasting and almsgiving on Ember Days.

 

 

The Introit

The love of God has been poured out in our hearts Alle- | luia*
by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Alle- | luia

Bless the LORD, | O my soul,*
and all that is within me,
bless his | holy name!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

The love of God has been poured out in our hearts Alle- | luia*
by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Alle- | luia

The Collect of the Day

Deign, we beseech Thee, Ó Lord: to pour fourth Thy Holy Spirit into our souls, by whose wisdom we were created, and by whose providence we are govèrned; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Spìrit: ever one God, world without end. Amen.

 
Moyses  , 1602, by Jacob Matham, Dutch from the  Philadelphia Museum of Art  

Moyses, 1602, by Jacob Matham, Dutch from the Philadelphia Museum of Art 

The First Lesson 

Joel 2:28-32

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

 

The Verse: Alleluia! It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.

The Second Collect:  May the Holy Spirit, we beseech Thee, Ò Lord: enkindle us with that fire which our Lord Jesus Christ sent upon earth, and earnestly desired to be enkindlèd; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Spìrit: ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Second Lesson

Leviticus 23:9-11, 15-17, 21

 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 

‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.  Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.  You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord.  And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

 

The Verse: Alleluia! By His Spirit He adorned the heavens.

The Third Collect:  O God, who hast created us in body ànd soul: in Thy mercy, grant what we may always be devoted to Thee with our whole beìng; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Hòly Ghost: ever one God, world without end. Amen


The Third Lesson

Deuteronomy 26: 1-3a, 7b-11

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God . . . who heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”;  and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’

“Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you.

 

The Verse: Alleluia! When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Fourth Collect:  Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that, instructed by these salutary fasts, and abstaining also from all vice, we may the more readily obtain Thy forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Hòly Spirit: ever one God, world without end. Amen

The Fourth Lesson

Leviticus 26: 3-12

‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them,
then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing;
you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid;
I will rid the land of evil beasts,
and the sword will not go through your land.
You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.
Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;
your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
‘For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you.
You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.
I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.

 

The Verse: Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful: and kindle in them the fire of Thy love. Alleluia!

The Fifth Collect:  Grant, we beseech Thee, Almìghty God: that we may so abstain from carnal feasting, that we learn bodily discìpline; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Hòly Ghost: ever one God, world without end. Amen

 

 

 

 

The Fifth Lesson

Daniel 3: 47-51

The flame shot forty-nine cubits above the furnace,   and it broke out and burned those it found around the furnace of the Chaldeans.   But the Angel of the Lord went down into the furnace to join Azariah and his companions, and shook off the fiery flame of the furnace.   He made the inside of the furnace to be as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it, so the fire did not touch them at all, or cause them pain, or trouble them. Then the three, as if with one mouth, sang, glorified, and blessed God in the furnace, saying:

Alleluia! Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers and to be praised and exalted above all forever

 

The Sixth Collect: O God, Who didst mitigate the flames of fire for the three chìldren: in Thy clemency, grant that the flame of sin may not consume us Thy servànts; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Hòly Ghost: ever one God, world without end. Amen


The Epistle

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Christ Healing the Mother-in-Law of Saint Peter  , 1630s, by Claude Vignon, French from the  Philadelphia Museum of Art

Christ Healing the Mother-in-Law of Saint Peter, 1630s, by Claude Vignon, French from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Holy Gospel

Luke 4:38-44

O praise the LORD, all ye nátions: praise him, all ye people.  For his merciful kíndness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever

Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them.

When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.

Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.