Sermon - March 6, 2019 - St. Martin's In the Desert

person holding bible with cross

Sermon – March 6, 2019

March 6, 2019 
Ash Wednesday 
All Years

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

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 Super 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 harden our hearts and minds.
Start new with asking for forgiveness and nourish 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 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.
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.
Not literally bread,
but to extend my hand to someone that might need something, even a kind word or a prayer.

I bought the stations of the cross and laid them out.

I 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.

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.
Rev. Lola Culbreath