Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ash Wednesday Homily

Gather together sisters and brothers.
          Sing together psalms and songs of sorrow, dear people.
          Call upon the LORD God, cling to Christ the Savior of the World.
          Confess your sins, known and unknown.
          Be marked with the dust of your very nature.

          Come here, you lonely and abandoned ones.
          You quiet, you reflective.
          You, like David, who have been confronted with your sin, pinned down by a clarifying moment—struck dumb by your Sin revealed, confessing “I’ve seen the enemy and it is me.”
          You, like Joel, overwhelmed by the events of the world and your own helplessness in the face of it all. Found powerless, you do the only thing you can, you kneel in prayer, you search out the warmth of other people, so that sorrow might be shared, and overcome by community, carrying one another and bearing one another.
          Yes, come together in worship and fellowship, gathered together as the body of Christ as we prepare for the coming of resurrected Christ.
          Pray more deeply, in this season that has a chasm’s depth to it.
          Hold more loosely those things that you wish to grasp for
—for our Lord did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but humbled himself all the way to the cross.
          Give to those who ask of it, for all has already been given to you.
          Yet listen to the words of Jesus and the Prophets—heed them well. Do these things from the heart and for the sake of your neighbors.
          The Danger is we will try to practice piety in pubic in order to point to ourselves; we get caught on showmanship instead of sorrow for sin.
          This is the opposite of true religion; it’s the opposite of a true Lenten calling. Our actions are not for ourselves—they are to de-center ourselves… to catch us off balance so we are caught in God’s mercy.
          Hear the words of the Prophets—they are cries for repentance, not for public consumption, but as an act of restitution
—justice is not admitting a mistake and moving on, it’s admitting the mistake and making amends.
          In short, it’s not about you. It’s about love of God and love of neighbor—no big surprise there I suppose, we’re Christians after all

          Worship, pray, fast, and give alms, knowing that you will fail at it
—and in that failure you will find the dust of the cross upon your brow again
—you’ll find yourself at the feet of Jesus again
—you’ll find that a space in your soul has been opened, that God might sanctify you in your failure.

          As dear Brother Martin Luther wrote on his death bed 469 years ago today, “We are all beggars; that is true.”
That, that is what we find in this sacred failure of Lent
—we find ourselves dying and being brought back to life by the one who was so profoundly a beggar that:
He veiled himself,
He entered the darkness
He knelt down in the dirt and dust
—the ashes of this Wednesday.
Christ is found in them, Christ is found here.

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