Ash Wednesday Sermon

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Fourth Sunday in Easter May 15, 2011 Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year A John 10:1-10
Third Sunday of Easter May 8, 2011 Third Sunday of Easter, Year A Luke 24:13-35; Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23
Second Sunday in Easter, Year A May 1, 2011 Second Sunday of Easter, Year A Acts 2:14a, 22-32, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Easter Sunday April 24, 2011 Easter Day, 2011 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; John 20:1-18
Good Friday April 22, 2011 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011 April 21, 2011 Maundy Thursday 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011 April 17, 2011 Palm Sunday Mathew 27
Fifth Sunday in Lent – Raising of Lazarus April 10, 2011 Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-45
Fourth Sunday in Lent April 3, 2011 Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A John 9:1-41; Psalm 23
Second Sunday in Lent, Year A March 20, 2011 Second Sunday in Lent, Year A Genesis 12: 1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17, Psalm 121
First Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2011 March 13, 2011 First Sunday in Lent, Year A Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 5:12-19, Romans 8:18-25
Ash Wednesday Sermon March 9, 2011 Ash Wednesday Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Last Sunday After Epiphany March 6, 2011 Last Sunday after Epiphany Matthew 17:1-9
Don’t Worry About Tomorrow February 27, 2011 Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Isaiah 49:8-16a; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34
Choose Life February 13, 2011 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

 

Ash Wednesday Sermon

Sermon Date:March 9, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Liturgy Calendar: Ash Wednesday


The rains are coming!

Lately, when I’ve driven in pouring rain, I’ve had trouble getting my windshield clear. My windshield wipers just don’t seem to do an adequate job. 

And so my vision gets clouded. 

We spend much of our lives driving through rainstorms with clouded vision, and a lot of times we even have trouble seeing the road at all. 

We have trouble seeing how to travel down the highways of our  lives because of our own sins, those things we’ve done and left undone, as our prayer of confession says.

Our spiritual windshield wipers just aren’t working efficiently. 

And so we need this Lenten season.

Lent is a time to get our spiritual windshield wipers working efficiently, so that we can travel safely through the storms that will inevitably come our way as we travel through our lives. 

How do we do this? 

For  me, the perfect metaphor for the spiritual disciplines that we should take on for Lent are contained in this bottle. 

The bottle says Rain X—and the substance in this bottle

“Dramatically improves wet weather driving visibility”

And on the back the bottle says that this substance “Let’s you see clearly.” 

So  let’s call this substance “Lent in a Bottle.”

Here’s how it works.

The first direction is to “Clean and thoroughly dry surfaces before treating.  Apply in temperatures above 40 degrees.

If we have cold hearts, Lent isn’t going to work for us.    Our hearts have to be at least a little bit warm for Lent to have any impact at all.

So  now, that the temperature in our hearts is warm enough, the first thing to do in this season is to thoroughly clean the areas in our lives that we want to treat.

That’s why our invitation to a holy Lent, that we will hear in a minute, calls us to self-examination and repentance. 

Lent gives us a chance to examine ourselves, to  realize that our windshields have gotten more than a little dusty as we travel through our lives. 

And when we take a good look through our windshields and realize how dirty they really have gotten,  we repent of that dust and dirt, that sinful grime, by thoroughly cleaning our windshields through prayerful repentance. 

But just cleaning the dust and grime off of our windshields is only a temporary fix.  There’s more to Rain X and more to Lent than self-examination and repentance.  That’s only the beginning!

The next step is to Turn sprayer nozzle to spray/on position, pointing away from face.

Now we can get through the season of Lent and even be in church every Sunday, but unless we turn the sprayer nozzle of this Bottle of Lent on, we will find that we might as well have left this bottle in the closet for all the good it’s going to do us. 

We have to make a commitment to this season, decide to turn the season on, so to speak, in our spiritual discipline.  And as the bottle tells us, we want to be careful with this season.

In other words, this is not a season to spray ourselves in the face with guilt and frustration about how hopeless we are.   We use Lent to help us improve our vision, to see more clearly.

The next step is to Apply Rain X to a small, folded dry cloth and wipe onto exterior glass using a firm, circular and overlapping motion. 

This is where the work comes in—the prayer, fasting and self-denial of Lent, and what we learn from the directions on the bottle is that we have to be intentional.  This isn’t a quick “just spray the windshield and be done” substance. 

Instead, we have to be specific, take our time, cover every inch of the windshield with the Lenten disciplines that we want to apply.

Now the Lenten disciplines we choose will be unique to  each one of us.  How we pray each day will be unique to each one of us.  

How we fast, and what we do when we fast will also be unique to each one of us– we can abstain not only from certain foods but also  from things like being judgmental and critical, or gossiping, or worrying or whatever our particular vices might be.

Self-denial also requires being specific—denying ourselves of those things that we worship in the place of the Lord our God.  What do you think about for most of your day?  Maybe that is the thing that you can give up for Lent so that you can make more space to think about God. 

“Allow to dry until a slight haze appears.”  Yes, the results of applying prayer, fasting and self-denial become visible if you apply these disciplines correctly to your spiritual windshield. 

Taking on a new discipline can at first create a haze in our lives.  We have to think about the discipline, sometimes it seems to get in our way, but that’s part of the process

“Reapply Rain X to ensure complete and uniform coverage.”  Practicing our Lenten disciplines needs to be an ongoing process for satisfactory results. 

Finally, “Remove final haze with dry cloth or by sprinkling with water and wiping with a paper towel until crystal clear.”

When we practice prayer, fasting and self-denial long enough and well enough, they become so much a part of us that we no longer see the haze—instead, we see the final result, a crystal clear spiritual windshield, that as the bottle promises, lets us see clearly.

After the application of Lent in a bottle during this Lenten season, I pray that each one of us will find that our carefully cleaned and treated  spiritual windshields will be free of that sinful grime and dust, that our application of Lent will help us repel the rain in our lives,  and that our windshield wipers will work perfectly so that we can truly see clearly. 

Amen. 

 

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