1 THE GIFT OF LENT Ash Wednesday (Year C) February 13, 2013 Lessons Joel 2:1-2, or Isaiah 58:1-12 Psalm 51:1-17 (1) or Psalm 103: Corinthians 5:20b 6:10 St. Matthew 6:1-6, Pastor David J. Risendal facebook Dave Risendal Twitter: drisendal Saint Peter Lutheran Church 9300 East Belleview Avenue Greenwood Village, Colorado voice: 303/ fax: 303/ Prayer of the Day Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. when you do these things the journey of Lent begins practicing the faith Sermon Grace to you and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Amen. I love being Lutheran. Part of that has to do with the reason we ve come here this evening. The rhythm of the liturgical year, especially what will take place between now and Easter, stirs me in some remarkably deep ways. Tonight we begin one of the most dramatic movements in the entire year. In a few moments, we will take the first couple of steps of our Lenten journey. We will confess, out loud, and in front of one another, that we have not been the people God has called us to be. That will not happen for us in any other place or at any other time this year. It is a uniquely faithful action to take a uniquely Christian action to take. To honor that confession, we will come forward and have a cross marked on our foreheads with ash. It is a sign of our brokenness. A sign of our mortality. A sign that, left to our own devices, we would have no hope of living well enough to be worthy of God s love. 1 Romans 1:7, 1 st Corinthians 1:3, 2 nd Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 st Thessalonians 1:1, 2 nd Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 3; New Revised Version Bible ( 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America).
2 Ash Wednesday Year C (February 13, 2013)! 2 These first steps are an admission of our need for God s grace, and many of the subsequent steps will be as well. We will gather here on Wednesday evenings each week for worship. We ll spend additional time in prayer and meditation. We may give something up during Lent, hoping that as we become more aware of our longing for that something, we will also come to deepen our sense of longing for God. Conversely, we may take something on, using this Lenten journey as a time to reignite our passion for practicing Habits of Discipleship in our lives. Every step of the journey, we will become more aware of the frailty of our human efforts, and our need for God s grace and forgiveness. Then, during the holiest week of the church year, the journey becomes even more intense. We will gather on Maundy Thursday the night that marks the very last night of our Lord s life. We will hear the word, and make our confession, and this time, rather than receive the mark of brokenness, we will come forward and hear the words we have been longing to hear for weeks: In obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sin. With that, we begin the three days that lead from Lent to Easter; from crucifixion to resurrection; from death to life. I love being a Lutheran, because I love this journey; a journey that, if we give our hearts to it, can become life-changing for us. We have many traditions that shape the journey of Lent, and one of them is that on this night, at the very beginning of the journey, we turn our attention to the words of Jesus that are part of what many call the Sermon on the Mount. This takes place close to the beginning of his public ministry. Jesus has spent forty days in the wilderness. He has relocated from Nazareth to Capernaum. He has called his first disciples: Peter and Andrew; James and John. And he has begun to travel around Galilee, teaching and proclaiming the good news and healing people. Great crowds follow him everywhere he goes, so he makes his way up a mountain and begins to speak. He deals with various aspects of faithfulness, and in the section we read tonight he deals specifically with how a Christian ought to go about engaging in certain spiritual practices in fact: the kinds of practices that typically are associated with Lent. His primary concern seems to be that we not engage in these faith practices in order that others might see us and be impressed. So when giving to the poor, our left hand shouldn t even know what our right hand is doing. When praying, we should do so in a place where nobody will know what we are doing. When fasting, we should not make a show of it. These activities are intended to draw us into the presence of God. To use them in order to impress others, or gain status, is to misuse them. But here is the interesting thing: in speaking about these practices, Jesus says: when you give alms when you pray when you fast. Jesus assumes that we all will be embracing these practices. He isn t questioning whether or not they are a good idea. He isn t suggesting that some believers will practice them and others won t. When you do these things, Jesus says. Generosity, prayer, fasting these are natural elements of the life of faith. Jesus addresses them because he expects us to engage them, and he wants us to experience them in the very best way. This hasn t always been a strength for Lutherans, in part because of our theology. We place a strong emphasis on God s grace, and we know that when we lift up expectations like this, there is the danger that people will conclude that by doing these things they earn some sort of credit with God. That couldn t be farther from the truth. We have no need to earn credit with God, and that isn t what spiritual practices are intended to accomplish. All that is necessary has been accomplished on the cross, and through the resurrection. It comes to us as a gift from God through Jesus Christ. In fact, we enter into these spiritual practices in order to better appreciate that truth. The more we practice them, the more conscious we become of our sinfulness and the better able we are to appreciate God s grace. And so the season of Lent becomes a time for us to live into these expectations that Jesus has for us. It used to be that believers talked about what they planned to give up for Lent. How about, this year, if we talk about what we plan to take on for Lent? What spiritual practices will you add to the
3 Ash Wednesday Year C (February 13, 2013)! 3 pattern of your daily life? Here at Saint Peter we recommend five of them: weekly worship, daily prayer and Bible study, monthly service in the community, generosity, and faith nurture with a faith partner or a small group. You may also be drawn to fasting or meditation or simplicity or solitude. This isn t always easy. We live busy lives, and it is complicated when we try to work anything new into our schedules. These practices may be unfamiliar to us, and it might take some time to dig around and find a way to practice them that is a good fit for us. There are many other pressures that can draw us away from focusing on this part of our lives. We are not promised that it will be easy, but we are promised that it will be worth the effort. As Jesus himself says, when we enter into these practices, hoping only to strengthen our relationship with God, and deepen our ability to trust in the promise of the Gospel, we find that where our treasure is, there our heart is also. So treasure the gifts of God that come to us this season. Allow the brokenness of life, symbolized by the ashes we receive tonight, to be answered by the grace of God that we ll experience along the way. Prepare your hearts and minds to receive the absolution of Maundy Thursday and the proclamation of Easter Sunday in new and powerful ways. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. May the treasure of this season be the grace of God that we receive, as we draw nearer to the presence and promise of the One who loves us enough to die for us. A good Lent to you all. Amen. David J. Risendal, Pastor Gospel Lesson; English Text 2 [Jesus said,] 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. 3 Gospel Lesson; Greek Text: Προσέχετε [δὲ] τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑµω ν µὴ ποιει ν ἔµπροσθεν τω ν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθη ναι αὐτοι ς εἰ δὲ µή γε, µισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῳ πατρὶ ὑµω ν τῳ ἐν τοι ς οὐρανοι ς. 2 Ό ταν οὐ ν ποιῃ ς 2 A list of Bible lessons for the coming weeks is available at 3 St. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, New Revised Standard Version Bible ( 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America).
4 Ash Wednesday Year C (February 13, 2013)! 4 ἐλεηµοσύνην, µὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔµπροσθεν σου, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιου σιν ἐν ται ς συναγωγαι ς καὶ ἐν ται ς ῥύµαις, ὅπως δοξασθω σιν ὑπὸ τω ν ἀνθρώπων ἀµὴν λέγω ὑµι ν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν µισθὸν αὐτω ν. 3 σου δὲ ποιου ντος ἐλεηµοσύνην µὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου τί ποιει ἡ δεξιά σου, 4 ὅπως ᾐ σου ἡ ἐλεηµοσύνη ἐν τῳ κρυπτῳ καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῳ κρυπτῳ ἀποδώσει σοι. 5 Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε, οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί, ὅτι φιλου σιν ἐν ται ς συναγωγαι ς καὶ ἐν ται ς γωνίαις τω ν πλατειω ν ἑστω τες προσεύχεσθαι, ὅπως φανω σιν τοι ς ἀνθρώποις ἀµὴν λέγω ὑµι ν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν µισθὸν αὐτω ν. 6 σὺ δὲ ὅταν προσεύχῃ, εἴσελθε εἰς τὸ ταµει ον σου καὶ κλείσας τὴν θύραν σου πρόσευξαι τῳ πατρί σου τῳ ἐν τῳ κρυπτῳ καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῳ κρυπτῳ ἀποδώσει σοι. 16 Ό ταν δὲ νηστεύητε, µὴ γίνεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί, ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτω ν ὅπως φανω σιν τοι ς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες ἀµὴν λέγω ὑµι ν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν µισθὸν αὐτω ν. 17 σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαι σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον σου νίψαι, 18 ὅπως µὴ φανῃ ς τοι ς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῳ πατρί σου τῳ ἐν τῳ κρυφαίῳ καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῳ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι. 19 Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑµι ν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τη ς γη ς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρω σις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν 20 θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑµι ν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῳ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρω σις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν 21 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκει ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου. 4 First Lesson; English Text: 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. 12 Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. 17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, Where is their God? 5 Second Lesson; English Text: 5.20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well 4 St. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, The Greek New Testament, Aland, Kurt, Black, Matthew, Martini, Carlo M., Metzger, Bruce M., and Wikgren, Allen, ( 1983, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart). 5 Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, New Revised Standard Version Bible ( 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America).
5 Ash Wednesday Year C (February 13, 2013)! 5 known; as dying, and see we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 6 Second Lesson; Greek Text: 5:20b δεόµεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ. 21 τὸν µὴ γνόντα ἁµαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡµῶν ἁµαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡµεῖς γενώµεθα δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ. Συνεργοῦντες δὲ καὶ παρακαλοῦµεν µὴ εἰς κενὸν τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ δέξασθαι ὑµᾶς 2 λέγει γάρ καιρῷ δεκτῷ ἐπήκουσα σου καὶ ἐν ἡµέρᾳ σωτηρίας ἐβοήθησα σοι. ἰδοὺ νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος, ἰδοὺ νῦν ἡµέρα σωτηρίας. 3 Μηδεµίαν ἐν µηδενὶ διδόντες προσκοπήν, ἵνα µὴ µωµηθῇ ἡ διακονία, 4 ἀλλ ἐν παντὶ συνίσταντες ἑαυτοὺς ὡς θεοῦ διάκονοι, ἐν ὑποµονῇ πολλῇ, ἐν θλίψεσιν, ἐν ἀνάγκαις, ἐν στενοχωρίαις, 5 ἐν πληγαῖς, ἐν φυλακαῖς, ἐν ἀκαταστασίαις, ἐν κόποις, ἐν ἀγρυπνίαις, ἐν νηστείαις, 6 ἐν ἁγνότητι, ἐν γνώσει, ἐν µακροθυµίᾳ, ἐν χρηστότητι, ἐν πνεύµατι ἁγίῳ, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀνυποκρίτῳ, 7 ἐν λόγῳ ἀληθείας, ἐν δυνάµει θεοῦ διὰ τῶν ὅπλων τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῶν δεξιῶν καὶ ἀριστερῶν, 8 διὰ δόξης καὶ ἀτιµίας, διὰ δυσφηµίας καὶ εὐφηµίας ὡς πλάνοι καὶ ἀληθεῖς, 9 ὡς ἀγνοούµενοι καὶ ἐπιγινωσκόµενοι, ὡς ἀποθνῄσκοντες καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶµεν, ὡς παιδευόµενοι καὶ µὴ θανατούµενοι, 10 ὡς λυπούµενοι ἀεὶ δὲ χαίροντες, ὡς πτωχοὶ πολλοὺς δὲ πλουτίζοντες, ὡς µηδὲν ἔχοντες καὶ πάντα κατέχοντες Corinthians 5:20b 6:10, New Revised Standard Version Bible ( 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America). 7 2 Corinthians 5:20b 6:10, The Greek New Testament, Aland, Kurt, Black, Matthew, Martini, Carlo M., Metzger, Bruce M., and Wikgren, Allen, ( 1983, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart).