Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Thursday, February 18, 2021

YEAR B 2021 ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday, 2021
Isaiah 58:1-12
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Psalm 103:8-14

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

So, here we are on Ash Wednesday.  I’m just going to go to the heart of it and say this . . .
This day is set aside in order to prepare us for Easter.  It marks the beginning of a 40-day journey together, where we are reminded of why we need a Savior.  Where we are called to repentance, to turning around.  We are redirected to look to the God of our salvation, who brings life out of death.

And for that reason, Ash Wednesday specifically serves to remind us of our mortality.  Because we can work our way out of a lot of things in this life, but none of us can work our way out of death.  And on this day we are reminded that we were created out of dust, and to dust we shall return.

Now, in a normal year, that reminder is really important.  Because we get so busy and so stressed about the future that . . . well, we don’t often pause to remember that we won’t be here forever.  However, in this year, after what we have all been through the past 12 months—and what we are still going through—well, I think we’re all quite aware of our mortality.  After spending and entire year losing people we love, being unable to visit our friends and family when they are nearing the end . . . yeah.  We’re all painfully aware of our mortality.

But one of the strange ironies of Ash Wednesday is that it—oddly—gets us focused on ourselves.  Thinking about our own individual mortality.  Having ashes placed on our own individual foreheads.  Reflecting on how we personally need to change our ways.  And, to be honest, I’m not sure that’s really what we need, given the year we’ve had.

And so maybe this Ash Wednesday should be different for us, because it certainly is different for us.  I want to remind you of two things we heard tonight.  The first is from the opening Collect, when we prayed, “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made.”  You hate nothing you have made.  Though we often harbor hatred at the things and at the people God has made, God hates nothing God has made.  Including . . . you.

And then the second thing is, in the reading from Isaiah this evening, we heard
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

Maybe those are the things we need to focus on this Lenten season.  God hates nothing God has made.  And, in response, maybe we can work toward removing the yoke, the pointing of fingers, and the speaking of evil.  We certainly have plenty of that right now, don’t we?  From all of us.  All the time.  But then I also want you to notice the promise in that verse, that if we do these things, with God’s help, then our light shall rise in the darkness, and our gloom will be like the light of the noonday.

As we enter into Lent together, let our efforts be turned away from ourselves, and turned instead toward bringing peace to this world.  Holding our tongues, breaking the bonds of oppression, and putting away our condemning pointed fingers, that God might turn our gloom into brightness, like the light of the noonday.

We know that we are mortal, we know that we are loved, and we know that we need a Savior.  May God  continue to remind us that we have a Savior in Jesus Christ, who rescues us from sin and death, and shines with the brightness of the noonday sun.

Amen.

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