Top Image: Blessing the Dust – Jan Richardson
Yesterday began our Lenten journey towards Easter. For some of us, it is a welcomed old friend, for others, it is as foreign as walking on the Moon. I hope my sermon from last night can help give purpose to why we celebrate Ash Wednesday and why we welcome the yearly application of dirty, nasty ashes on our forehead. I also hope you get some food for thought as you begin a Lenten practice.
I talk about the recipe for a Lenten practice as given by Jesus in the Gospel lesson: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting. And to this recipe, consider the greatest commandment as told by Christ: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Then, mix in our Christian anthem and theme of Lent: first comes death and the come life.
Now ask, what sort of changes/practices can we begin that will bring about new life and what sort of death (to self, habits, divisions) will we have to undergo? What will your Lenten practice mean for someone else?
Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”