|Lent 4||March 26, 2017||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41|
|Lent 3||March 19, 2017||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2||March 12, 2017||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1||March 5, 2017||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|➤Ash Wednesday||March 1, 2017||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany||February 19, 2017||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 12, 2017||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 5, 2017||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – Reflections on Annual Convention, Susan Tilt||January 29, 2017||4th Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 22, 2017||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Psalm 27:1, 5-13, Matthew 4:12-23|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany||January 15, 2017||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus||January 8, 2017||The Baptism of our Lord, Year A||The Book of Common Prayer|
|Epiphany||January 6, 2017||Epiphany 2017||Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Day, Year A||December 25, 2016||Christmas Day, 2016||Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Psalm 98, John 1:1-14|
Sermon Date:March 1, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
Liturgy Calendar: Ash Wednesday, Year A
When you came into the church tonight, I asked you to write your name on a slip of paper and to put it in this treasure box.
So here is the box.
It has your name in it.
This is God’s treasure box. God treasures (read each name in the box)—God treasures you and God treasures me. God treasures all of creation. We are God’s beloved children. We know that God treasures us because God sent Jesus, the beloved Son of God, to be with us, as one of us, to live and die as one of us. Our baptisms remind us that God treasures us because at our baptisms, we are marked as Christ’s own, forever, when the priest makes the sign of the cross on our foreheads.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
So God’s heart is always here, with each one of us, because we are God’s treasure.
Tonight, we come before God simply grateful to be loved so graciously.
We come before God by giving to others out of gratitude for what God has given to us, God’s beloved children.
We come before God, praying out of gratitude, thankful that God is waiting expectantly to hear our prayers.
We come before God fasting out of gratitude, thankful that we need nothing more, because God has already given us more than we will ever need.
Gratitude and thankfulness are the gifts we can bring—the treasures that we can offer to God who has given us unimaginable blessings, and continues to bless us with every breath we take, because God treasures us.
What happens when we forget that God treasures us?
In her book, Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou tells about experiencing an episode of such anxiety that she feels as if she might kill herself and her young son. She goes to a psychiatric clinic and sees one of the doctors and all she can do is cry. She leaves without getting any help. At last she goes to the home of her music teacher and mentor and tells him that she thinks she might kill herself and hurt her son. He just looks at her, hands her a piece of paper and a pencil and tells her to start writing out her blessings. She can’t even do this at first, so he tells her to write down that she can breathe. He tells her to write that she can hear. He tells her to write that she can see. He tells her to write that she can get out of bed in the morning. Finally, Maya is able to start writing out the blessings for herself.
And as she writes, she feels her anxiety lifting as she realizes that she is so abundantly blessed that she can’t even write down all these unearned blessings—that she is a treasured child of God, that all the paper in the world and all the time in the world wouldn’t be enough to write it all down. It was at this point, she says, that she decided that she would live the rest of her life with an attitude of gratitude.
So here’s a Lenten discipline. Choose to be grateful each day to God because you are a treasured child of God. Every day, thank God for the ways God has blessed you.
Br. Mark Brown, an Episcopal monk in the Society of St John the Evangelist says in his essay “Beloved: Marks of Mission, Marks of Love,” that before we can go out and do God’s work in the world, “we need to delight in and rejoice in the love of God for us and our love for God. We need simply to be the beloved with whom God is well pleased and to return God’s love. We might imagine God saying to us, “Your plans sound wonderful—but first, let me kiss you.”
He goes on to say that when we know and embrace God’s love for us, that’s when we can give back to God by giving to others, even though we will never do anything perfectly. But when we embrace God’s love, “God’s love begins to become God’s love in action. The power of the Holy Spirit starts to live and work in each one of us, God’s treasured and beloved children.”
Tonight, I’ll mark your forehead with ashes, just as you were marked as Christ’s own forever at your baptisms. These ashes remind us of our mortality, and that we came from the dust of the earth.
But even the dust of the earth is made of the very star dust of eternity.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” reminds us that we have limited time on this earth and that our tendency is to squander the time we’ve been granted by forgetting that we are God’s treasure. But when remember that we are God’s beloved treasure, then the time we’re given, no matter how quickly it comes to an end, is more than enough time to make our own marks of love on this world, because God has already marked us with love.
Br Mark says, “You are beloved. You are drawn into the divine life of the One who is Love; into the life of the One who desires first and foremost your love in return. The God who delights in you desires that you delight in God. In this always-new and always-growing relationship, you will discover empowerment, gifts of the Spirit, inspiration, and ‘wind in your sails.’”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
God’s heart is with us, because we are God’s beloved children.
I invite you to a holy Lent.
I invite you to remember that your richest treasure is God’s love for you, and that your heart is marked for love.
Angelou, Maya. Mom & Me & Mom. Random House, 2013.
Brown, Mark. “Beloved: Marks of Mission, Marks of Love.” SSJE.