Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Thursday, February 23, 2023

YEAR A 2023 ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday, 2023
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.

As with many of the most important days in the church year, the liturgy of Ash Wednesday does the heavy lifting.  Everything you need to know about the day is found in the pages of our prayer book.  Today is one of those times where the preacher cannot add much that matters, but can certainly derail things by saying too much.  And so I just want to give you a thought or two.  

The season of Lent is a good time to hit the reset button in our lives.  Ash Wednesday is a stark reminder that we are mortal. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  And remembering we are mortal, that changes how we view the world, and turns our attention to what we will leave behind when we are gone.  But then, can we even hit that reset button, when we are distracted 24 hours a day by the cares and concerns of this life?  This busy life we live, while still knowing we will one day leave it all behind?

Those constant distractions of life are why some people find it is helpful to give something up for Lent.  To refocus the attention on who we are, and who God is, and why we are here, and what happens when we’re gone.  These are the heaviest questions in the world, and it is hard to think about them when we are constantly distracted, acting as though we will live forever.  But deep down, we know we won’t live forever.  And we have Ash Wednesday as an annual reminder of that fact.  Having been given the miraculous gift of life means we will also one day pass on from this world, and back into the arms of Jesus.

So, here’s something to think about as we enter into these forty days together.  Lent is not a time for behavior modification.  (That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.)  Lent is a time for mental modification: an opportunity to change our minds.  Some people find it is helpful to change their behaviors during Lent in order to change their minds.  But the point of Lent is to help us see life as it is.  And to see death as it is.  And to see the promise of the resurrection as it is.  Life, death, and resurrection are all of a piece for Christians.  

And so, in this season of Lent, my prayer is that God will grant us the clarity of mind to acknowledge that we are mortal, and the faith to believe that we will one day be raised to immortal life with those we love, and the courage to go and tell others this good news.


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