Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
The Gospel message for Ash Wednesday is somewhat perplexing in the context of the usual way people observe this day. Perhaps the fashion has fallen out of favor, but when I was a kid it was not uncommon to see people walking about “wearing their ashes,” as Ash Wednesday services were at noon. In many places this is still the case, but wait! How does this square with Jesus telling us to “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them”?
Does this mean that what we do as Christians should be hid from the world for fear of being like the hypocrites or the Pharisees? Are we never to tell anyone of what we have done for the Lord? Some would certainly say so, but I say No! Doesn’t Jesus tell us in Matthew 5 that a lamp is not lit and put under a basket but rather is put on a lamp stand in order to illuminate the whole house. He tells us that we are to let our light so shine (I say this includes our faith) before others so that they see our good works and give glory to God.
It is all about context. Walking around with ashes on your forehead once a year to show your piety is what Jesus is speaking against in Matthew 6 – showing up to church a few times a year to be seen like some washed-up actor appearing at the Oscar just to say, “Look at ME!”
Jesus wants us to live a life in him all year, exhibit faith and do good works, not for our glory but for God’s If you have been disconnected from the Body of Christ for sometime there is no better time than Lent to come home and begin living for God, rather than self.
Heavenly Father, how foolish we are to think we can be Christian without being part of the body of Christ. How can an arm call itself part of the body without being part of the body. In its detached state it is useless; it will wither and die. By the power of Your Holy Spirit , spark new faith in those who have strayed, or have never believed, so they might live a life for You and for others. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.