Ash Wednesday, Year B

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Pentecost 7, Year B July 12, 2015 Pentecost 7, Year B Ephesians 1:3-14
Pentecost 6, Year B July 5, 2015 Proper 9, Year B Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13
Pentecost 5, Year B June 28, 2015 Proper 8, Year B Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30
Pentecost 4, Year B June 21, 2015 Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41
Pentecost 3, Year B June 14, 2015 The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34
Pentecost 2, Year B June 7, 2015 The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5 Genesis 3:8-15, Ps 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35
Pentecost 1, Year B -Trinity Sunday May 31, 2015 Pentecost 1, Year B, Trinity Sunday Isaiah 6:1-8,Psalm 29,Romans 8:12-17,John 3:1-17
Easter 7, Year B May 17, 2015 Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B John 17:6-19
Easter 6, Rogation Sunday, Year B May 10, 2015 Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogation Sunday Deuteronomy 11:10-15, Mark 4:26-32
Easter 4, Year B April 26, 2015 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
Easter 2, Year B April 12, 2015 Second Sunday of Easter, Year B Acts 4:32-25, Ps 133, John 20:19-31
Easter Sunday April 5, 2015 Easter, Year B Mark 16:1-8
Easter Sunrise service April 5, 2015 Easter Sunday, Year B John 20:19-22
Good Friday, Year B April 3, 2015 Good Friday, Year B John 18:1-19:42
Annunciation March 25, 2015 The Annunciation Luke 1:26-38

 

Ash Wednesday, Year B

Sermon Date:February 18, 2015

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

Liturgy Calendar: Ash Wednesday, Year B


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Today is the beginning of Lent.

The season of Lent helps us to focus on what is going on in our lives right now.

This is the time in the church year to examine and to deal with the everyday imperfections, and the messy and unhappy places in our lives so that we can draw closer to God and to one another.

If we undertake this work prayerfully, we’ll find new life, new growth, and resurrection in our own lives, even as the great drama of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection plays out in this part of the church year.

The Lenten path toward resurrection and better relationships with God and with one another isn’t straightforward, at least for me. I tend to meander through the season, sometimes backtracking, sometimes getting stuck, and sometimes actually making progress.

But still, I know the destination—resurrection and new life—and so I try to keep my focus on the goal.

Yesterday when I was going through some clippings I’d saved, I found this one—an article by John Kelly. He writes for The Washington Post, and this article appeared sometime last summer.

His description of a walk across the beach to the ocean had a lot to say to me about the journey through Lent that we begin on this cold, snowy winter day.

He’s at the Outer Banks, and he’s walking toward the ocean.

The beginning of his walk is through dune sand. Kelly describes this sand as “soft, powdery, bristling with sea oats and difficult to walk on because it’s so dry and so loose…thick and sinking…you somehow end up with black powder all over your soles, as if your feet have attracted dark unseen particles of pulverized lava.”

Sometimes I have trouble getting my footing in Lent, especially at the beginning. I plow through the same old stuff, beating myself up because I haven’t gotten going on that discipline I thought I’d undertake, or I keep ignoring a problem I seriously need to face—the going is slow, and the tendency is to get bogged down, and maybe even to give up, and think that next year, I’ll do better.

But if I can get through the this sinking sand, then I come to the next kind of beach sand, which Kelly describes as friable sand.

“This is the beach’s no man land, a place of blackened bonfires and spent fireworks and desiccated cigarette butts. The trashcans are here…”

Kelly’s friable sand is my Lenten wilderness—walking through, paying attention to, and hopefully trying to clean up the faults and shortcomings in my life that is are not only outward eyesores, but also the inner ugliness that keeps me in a state of unhappy inertia.

Lent is the season to spend some time on this part of the journey through the friable sand, asking God to help us clean up the areas in our lives where trash has built up.

Beach sand is next—the sand we’ve been longing for—cool and damp, welcoming to our bare feet. As we let God help us clean up and wash away those messy areas in our lives, we find this delight and comfort in the journey we’ve undertaken. We can see and feel our goal at hand.

And then we get to surf sand, “where the Atlantic kisses North America.” This is the sand that can wash out from under your feet if you stand in the surf long enough, and you have to re-establish your footing. At some point, you have to make the decision to turn around, or keep going into the surf.

And if you keep going, you step on the broken seashells that can hurt your feet—

The closer we come to God, the harder the pull of evil forces in our lives will be to keep us away from God—the temptation is to return to our old, easy, unhappy ways. This new path has its discomforts.

But if we keep going, over the broken seashells and the “gloopy viscous sand “ just beyond, at last we find no sand at all.

As Kelly describes this moment, “the beach has dropped away and you are floating. You rise and fall with each wave, reveling in the ocean’s amniotic embrace.”

The season of Lent holds these moments.

In the midst of following The Book of Common Prayer exhortations to “self examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word, we can find ourselves floating in God’s presence, held in God’s embrace, rocked gently in God’s love, comforted, strengthened, and renewed.

And these moments give us the courage to continue the journey toward resurrection, and the courage to return to shore and to start the journey over, again and again.

So on this snowy Ash Wednesday take an imaginary summer walk across the sand to the ocean and lay out your own path through this season of Lent.

God will go with you, and resurrection awaits.

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