Ash Wednesday - February 22, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Ash Wednesday – February 22, 2023

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


Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgave the sins
of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we,
worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you,
the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Isn’t it appropriate that Spring is in the air and Lent is here?
The word lent comes from the English word, Lente…” Spring” also Lengthen, “to
lengthen (daylight)”

We have been blessed with so much rain and we are all anticipating a beautiful spring
of wild flowers in the desert and especially in Death Valley. Is it possible we could get another Supper Bloom?

I have heard it only happens every 10 years. God may have other plans. We can anticipate a beautiful spring. Work in our yards and gardens to clean out the old underbrush that has accumulated
this past year. And trim off all the old branches that no longer nourish the plants.

Lent is a time that we do the same with ourselves and get rid of the old thoughts that
has hardened our hearts and minds. Start new by asking for forgiveness and nourishing our bodies with a new life in Christ.

Ash Wednesday begins our Lenten observance and is one of two days that we in the Episcopal Church fast (the other day is Good Friday). The Prophet Isaiah, “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble myself? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Share your bread with the hungry. Fasting is about humbling ourselves before God it is what will make us acceptable before God. It is “also” a time of prayer and reflection, confession and self-denial. We are reminded of our mortality and the fragility of life. Ash Wednesday is a day that we are marked with Ashes and a day to remember that We are dust and dust we shall return.


as we have the Ashes marked on the outside of our foreheads, “it is what’s marked on our hearts that matter.” Lent is a time when everything matters. Every word we speak, every action we take, and every choice we make matters. Every person we meet and every person in our life matters. Not only to us but to God.
What we do during the season of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, “but” it doesn’t stop there after Lent, is should continue as our daily practice.

Gospel: (Matthew: 6:1-6, 16-21)

In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that God sees everything we do, we do not have to let everyone around us know what we are doing. We do not need trumpets sounding when we do something for someone. We do not need others to praise us. We do not have to pray in front of others to be noticed.

We do not walk around boasting about what we are giving up for lent or what we’re going to do in lent. All of this… should be done in secret with only your Father, who sees and in secret will reward you. We must go to that secret place of ourselves!! and “not” just open and slam the door shut again, but stay there and pray to the Father. It is a time I want to share my bread with someone. Not literally bread, but to extend my hand to someone that might need something, Even a kind word or a prayer. Every year I take a moment and walked around the stations…thinking about the life of Jesus.

Thinking about the 40 days he spent in the desert and then the walk to Jerusalem for his final days. I thought of him praying…always praying.

As I start my Lent season and I prepare my walk for 40 days with my lord, I want it to be a time that I deliberately spend time before God in a way that is different from the rest of the Church Year.

Prayer Support us, O Lord, with your gracious favor through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by self-denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever.

The Reverend Lola Culbreath