Maybe Lent and the gospel of Jesus are not primarily about being good, a program for changing from a bad person to a good person, so we can get a future reward. I’ve got nothing against being a good person (whatever that might mean) but I’ve never read where Jesus said, “I came that you might be good, better, an improved version of yourself.” What I have read is that Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Throughout the gospel he shows himself to be giving life, revealing life, and calling to life. And that’s not about tomorrow, after you die, or some heavenly future. “Now is the day of salvation,” Paul tells us (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now, in this time and in this place. Life is now. Continue reading Life Before Death – An Ash Wednesday Sermon
We live in a tension between the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death. And we work pretty hard at denying, ignoring, forgetting, outrunning, and overcoming those twin realities. But they are always there. They are always present to us in the same way the ashes with which we will be marked were already a part of and present in the palms we carried last year on Palm Sunday.
What’s that like for you? In what ways have those two realities, the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death, made themselves known in your life? Maybe that’s what you are facing today. Continue reading Mortality And The Fragility Of Life – An Ash Wednesday Sermon On Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Where we begin our Lenten journey is not as important as where it takes us. In the same way, what we give up, take on, or do for Lent are not as important as what those things do for us.
Continue reading Giving Away Our Hearts – An Ash Wednesday Sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
What should I do for Lent this year? What should I read or study or give up or take on? These are good questions, but they are not Jesus’ question. Jesus wants to know what we treasure. Jesus is getting to the heart of the matter—our hearts. Continue reading Treasuring Hunting for Lent – An Ash Wednesday Meditation
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Several years ago someone said to me, “One day I finally realized people were not spending nearly the amount of time thinking about me as I was spending thinking about them thinking about me, and wondering what they saw when they looked at me, what they said about me, and what they thought about me.” The man who told me this story … Continue reading Yesterday’s Palms, Today’s Ashes – An Ash Wednesday Sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
As I write this reflection it’s the third week in Epiphany and I’ve been thinking about Lent for a couple of weeks now. I am thinking about Shrove Tuesday; the pancake supper, the palms we will burn, and the ashes we will prepare for the next day’s liturgy. I am thinking about the fragility of life, mortality, and the ashes that will mark our foreheads … Continue reading I Don’t Want To Do Lent This Year
A couple of years ago I was talking with a women who is and has been for many years my therapist, counselor, mentor, and teacher all rolled into one. I told her that I worked really hard to always get it right, to have the answer, to always know what to do, to speak the right words, to be strong and in control, to do … Continue reading Welcome to the Human Race – An Ash Wednesday Sermon, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
“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.” (Mt. 6:1-6, 16-21; Ash Wednesday) Don’t sound the trumpet when you give alms. Don’t pray standing on the street corner attracting attention to yourself. Don’t show off by your fasting. This is about much more than how we give our … Continue reading Taking Ourselves More Seriously than God – An Ash Wednesday Sermon, Mt. 6:1-6, 16-21
This setting is by the Italian Composer, Gregorio Allegri. It is based on Psalm 51 and was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably in the 1630s. Psalm 51, Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy on me, O God) , is one of the penitential psalms used in the Ash Wednesday Proper Liturgy of the Episcopal Church. Psalm 51 1Have mercy on me, O … Continue reading Miserere mei, Deus
The collect and readings for today, Ash Wednesday, may be found here. Ash Wednesday makes us face a reality we tend to deny. It begins a conversation most would rather not have. That topic and conversation is about death, not the usual topic of our daily conversations I suspect. We really don’t talk much about death unless it is news about the death of someone … Continue reading Marked for Death, Destined for Life – A Sermon for Ash Wednesday