Apologies for the late dispatch of this week’s e-vo. I hope and pray your Lent has begun well and you will be drawn up into the passion the death of Jesus and the good news of the glorious Resurrection over the next 40 something days.
6 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. For 40 days (not counting Sundays) we are drawn into the passion of Jesus, Holy Week and the good news of Easter.
Lent in general and Ash Wednesday in particular are honest times. There is no place for pretense. One of the reasons that we are to pray more privately and give more privately and fast more privately is so that we are more focused on the gift or the discipline rather than how it stacks up to those of others. Jesus invites us to each, as God directs us, turn our hearts, our prayers, our faces and our disciplines to God.
This world we are in is passing away. Things decompose, get lost, get broken, get eaten by moths. When we focus on how much we have and flaunt it others will come and try to steal it. The world tells us that success looks a certain way. So much of Jesus’ message is diametrically opposed to the message of the world. Will we receive ears to hear and eyes to see?
Every day is a gift and pure grace from God. Every day we see the holiness and we snub the grace. God wants our hearts. Jesus said we fulfill the Law and the Prophets when we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and when we love our neighbors as ourselves. This can only happen as a work of God blowing the Holy Spirit through our lives. Holy Spirit, blow.
God, draw us up into you. Bless our times in our prayer closets and our service out in the world. May you have your way in our lives and be glorified. Amen.