Sermon - February 26, 2020 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – February 26, 2020

February 26, 2020 
Ash Wednesday
All Years

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

We can anticipate a beautiful spring working 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, time to get rid of the old thoughts that has harden our hearts and minds, so we can start new, with asking for forgiveness and nourish our bodies with a new life in Christ.

Ash Wednesday begins our Lenten observance, it 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 oneself?
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 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 that everything matters, it isn’t about making ourselves better. It is about remembering God’s love for us. In fact, Lent is a good time to remind ourselves of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, who offers salvation for us.

Every word we speak, every action we take, 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 see’s everything we do, we do not have to let everyone around us know what we are doing. We don’t need trumpets sounding when we do something for someone. We do not need others to praise us. We don’t have to pray in front of others to be noticed. We don’t walk around boasting about what your giving up for lent or what you’re going to do in lent. All of this should be done in secret with only your Father who sees 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 by bread with someone and to extend my hand to someone that might need something, a kind word and prayer. When we 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 think of him praying…always praying.

As we start our Lent season and prepare our walk for 40 days with our Lord, let us deliberately spend time before God in a way that is different from the rest of the Church Year.

In a few minutes we will receive ashes on our foreheads…a cross, a sign that we were all created out of the same dust, we share a common humanity with all people who have ever walked this earth…including Jesus of Nazareth.

The crosses of our baptism and a sign the we also can be a light to the world. 

Rev. Lola Culbreath