I’m back from vacation and here’s the Wednesday Wisdom.
A note for people from Emmanuel United Church (or for anyone who is in the area)- This evening at 7 pm at Parkminster United Church there will be an Ash Wednesday service to which we are invited.
Today’s Gospel as we enter Lent on this Ash Wednesday: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
6:1 “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.
6:2 “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.
6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 “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.
6:6 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.
6:16 “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.
6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
6:18 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.
6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
6:20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“You turn us back to dust, and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.'” – Psalm 90
In the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer, we are given words to speak over the body of the deceased at burial, commending the soul of the departed to Almighty God and committing the body to the ground:
” . . . earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust . . . .”
On this Ash Wednesday we are mindful of the ashes from which we were created. With egos in check, we are keenly cognizant of our weaknesses and frailties. And we are humbly grateful for the wondrous mixture of dust and divinity that God has formed in each of us.
The ashes beseech us never to lose sight of how temporal and how fleeting life really is. The writer of Psalm 90 says that human life is like grass that flourishes in the morning, but is dried and withered by evening. All in the span of one brief metaphorical day.
As we begin our observance of Lent on this Ash Wednesday, let us be mindful of our imminent mortality. Let us repent for being reckless, negligent and sometimes ungrateful for this precious gift of life. And from this day forward, let us never take another day for granted.
Dear God, we acknowledge our weaknesses and we rejoice in the strength that we have in you, now and forever. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel
We’re just a drop in the bucket, and that’s meaningless. But we say, ‘No, wait a minute. If you have a bucket, those raindrops fill it up very fast. Being a drop in the bucket is magnificent.’ The problem is we cannot see the bucket. Our work is helping people see that there is a bucket. There are all these people all over the world who are creating this bucket of hope. And so our drops are incredibly significant.
Frances Moore Lappe
Source: Hope Dies Last
When it comes down to it, God,
we are only dust –
and we need your breath
to bring us to life.
But when we forget the God-imaged spirit
that lives in us and all people,
may our prayers open our eyes again.
When we hoard what we have
believing life is found in the things of dust,
may our giving and serving bring us indestructible wealth.
When we throw off restraint,
believing that freedom is license,
may our fasting liberate us from our appetites,
and teach us simplicity.
We are all dust, God,
from the strongest to the weakest,
the greatest to the least;
and we all need your breath
to give us life.
So, in every circumstance, every place,
every interaction, every decision,
may we choose only what will embrace and share life
with every spec of this created dust
that you love so dearly.
John van de Laar