Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Kindness, Simplicity and Reconciliation

Jesus says, 
"For where your treasure is, 
there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Ash Wednesday
begins our journey into Lent.

Lent invites us to travel with the question:
where is my heart these days? 

Where are we placing our treasures?
The treasures of our time, 
our resources,
our health,
our energies,
our very lives?

Are the steps of our journey
drawing us closer to God
or building walls
to keep God from coming too close,
to keep us from becoming 
whom God created us to be?

Too often we think of Lent
as a time of harshness.
The ultimate finger-wagging,
“You are SO bad!” 
That is not the intention of this season.

Lent is a wandering in the desert sort of time
but it does not have to be miserable.
Lent can be a time
when we learn to sit with our discomfort and dis-ease and fears,
instead of running or hiding 
or feeling ashamed.

This holy season of Lent
I have three words for you:


Let me say those three words again.
Because I need to hear them.


Almost all our music tonight is from the Taizé community.
The Taizé Community
is an ecumenical monastic order founded in 1940,
located in the town of Taizé in Burgundy, France.

There are more than 100 religious brothers who live there year round.
They are from both Protestant and Catholic traditions--
imagine that! And they get along.
 They are from over 30 different countries throughout  the world.
Imagine that! And they get along.
A diverse community.
A diverse community that lives and works and worships together.

The community has also become 
a very important site of Christian pilgrimage,
especially for young people.

Every year over 100,000 young people--
from all over the world--
make pilgrimages to Taizé--
for prayer, Bible study, communal work--
and yes, singing. 

The words of these short songs from Taizé
are sung over and over many times,
prayerfully repeated
until they become like breathing,
helping us to attentively listen to God.

The pilgrims who travel to Taizé
are encouraged 
to return to their ordinary, every day lives
and to live 
in the spirit they have discovered at Taizé--
the spirit of kindness, 
simplicity and reconciliation.

What is God saying to you this Lent 
about kindness?
Is there someone you have treated unkindly?
Are there times when you treat yourself unkindly?
How might that change?

What is God doing in your life these days?
Do you have space and time for God 
and for those you love
or is every nook and cranny
stuffed too full?
Are you being suffocated by your possessions?
What needs simplifying?

Whom do you need to forgive?
Where in your own life do you need forgiveness?
What is broken
that needs to be made whole?
What might you claim anew
if you forgive yourself?

Metanoia--the word which we usually translate as “repent”--
is better translated to mean to turn around,
to go a different way.

I saw on a sign outside a church one time
that said: 
Use your GPS--God Positioning System.
That is a good description for Lent.
Sometimes we need a repositioning.

The landscape of Lent calls us to watch and wait
and to pray
and to pay attention to where God is leading us,
guiding us out of the wilderness.

Where is the path that leads
to kinder, simpler, and more merciful lives?

Lent is not about being or becoming perfect.
Lent is about listening for God
and understanding that God
is always listening for us.


How will God unfold these three 
for you
during this holy season of Lent?

Jesus says, 
"For where your treasure is, 
there your heart will be also".

No comments: