A short meditation for Ash Wednesday (Year A, 9 March 2011)

Connect

Readings
Isaiah 58.1-12
Matthew 6.1-21

 

For the longest time, we Protestants and Evangelicals have placed great stress on what happens in our hearts.

What good is it, we say, if a person does the outwardly correct ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ things, if their heart is not right with God?

We’ve seen too much self-serving religion. We’ve listened to the prophets like Isaiah, as we should. The people say to God:

Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?

And God replies:

Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.

We are here today to connect. We wish to connect faith and life, so that our life as a family of God shows the justice and care of God.

We wish to connect soul and body. We can only love others through our bodies; we can only love them through their bodies. We can only say ‘Let me help’ with our body to another body. We can only say a caring word or smile a loving smile with our bodies. We are called to feed and clothe others whose bodies lack such things. Our soul needs our body to be a soul.

We are here to connect who we are in baptism with who we are in our body. We will soon hear the words ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return’. This body is not permanent. But in our baptism we were declared a daughter of God, a son of God—and the sign of the cross was made on our foreheads. Today, we will again receive the sign of the cross on our foreheads, but this time in ashes rather than water. ‘Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’—yet always as God’s beloved children.

Lent is a time to connect. To connect with God and with one another, through very basic means—prayer; scripture; worship; service; fasting.

Let’s connect this Lent.

 

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