Sermon; Ash Wednesday 2019
Today marks the beginning of Lent. Today we are called to return to the Lord. We are asked to rend our hearts and not our garments. This is the time of self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, and meditating on God's holy Word.
There are two aspects to Lent we need to pay attention to.
First, too often, I think, people who observe Lent tend to approach this season with a sense that we aren't doing it right unless we are miserable. As in, “I have to give up all the fun stuff,” or, “I have to give up all the good tasting stuff.”: But the point of Lent isn't to be miserable, the point of Lent is to turn and get right with God and neighbor.
In truth, it's those things which take us away from God and neighbor that can make us miserable: loss of contact, loss of relationships, harmed relationships that are never able to be reconciled, and the like. Lent is a season which looks to repair and restore these things. Lent is the time when penitent sinners were restored to the church. Lent is the time when we give up those things which draw us away and begin to work at restoration. Lent is the time when we begin to heal.
Lent isn't about being miserable. Lent is about making changes, turning, to become healthier – physically, spiritually, emotionally.
And second, Lent is there to remind us that, ultimately, we are not the be all and end all of the universe. Despite what we hear from advertisers about the latest product that will bring fulfillment and happiness to our lives, or what society tells us we need, the world doesn't revolve around us. It's that way of thinking that leads us to ignore (at best) or actively abuse (at worst) others in an effort to benefit me. In the end, no matter how many toys or how much money you have, we all die.
Lent reminds us that we are all mortal. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Lent reminds us that we are all children of God who have wandered away, but are working towards restoration and reconciliation.
Lent reminds us that the world revolves around God.
This Lent, instead of simply giving something up, ask yourself what you could give up that draws you away from God and neighbor so that you may draw closer to God and neighbor?