Summary: An Ash Wednesday Sermon focusing on sin, confession, repentance and mortality
Ash Wednesday: A Confession
“Return to me, says the Lord, with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” (Joel 2:12-13)
Sin, confession/repentance, mortality, death...Many times these are not this that ordinary people delight in discussing. Sin- the truth that there IS right and wrong and that we make very bad mistakes and are much more less than perfect. Confession and repentance, the idea of sharing your most shameful failures with another. Mortality, the reality that our lives are brief and fragile and will one day end. Death, the fear of the unknown, the question mark at the end of our lives- what will we face? There's no escaping it or changing it no matter HOW advanced our technology or medicine gets. No matter how rich or powerful or intelligent we become in this life, we are ALL created beings, we ALL have a beginning, and we ALL have an end. And today is the day we as Christians remind ourselves of all of these things. Not for the mere fact to depress ourselves, but to remind ourselves that God is God and WE ARE NOT, that His ways ARE HIGHER THAN OUR WAYS and that we as created beings are completely indebted to the grace and mercy of our God and ONLY have salvation through cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Scripture tells us that God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. It also tells us that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself, the same will be exalted. Friends, today is a day to put aside all pride, to empty ourselves of everything great that we think we are and focus on God. The Bible is very clear: we are finite beings that have a beginning and an end who will one day answer to God, and God alone. Therefore, we MUST align ourselves with HIS reality, with HIS way, and with HIS requirements. Today, is a day we actively remind ourselves of that. We MUST not hide from the truth of death and of the consequences of sin, we MUST remind ourselves and others that the ONLY way to deal with sin and the ONLY way to overcome our own mortality and death is by humbling ourselves before the mighty hand of God, by confessing our sins, by repenting from our offensive ways to God and by simply receiving His mercy, and grace and forgiveness.
So today I'd like to do something a little different; today I'd like to remind us of all of these things that we do not like to think on- almost by way of a lengthy prayer, I'd like to preach this sermon almost as a confession of our inadequacy and humility. By doing this today, we pause to take our eyes wholly off ourselves and turn them back on God- the author and finisher of our faith. By doing this, we glorify Him, we worship and honor Him. Let us honor Him now as we are reminded of our smallness, our sinfulness our mortality, and our need for His grace, mercy and ongoing forgiveness...
I. Father God, today we remind ourselves that YOU are our Creator, and the WE are the Created:
A. As You said in the beginning, "let us make man in our own image, and in our likeness...then the Lord God formed the man out of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature..." and You said unto him after he had sinned "cursed is the ground because of You; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life...till you return to the ground for out of it you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust you shall return..." (Genesis 1:26, 3:17,19)
1. There is something in modern man that strives almost to believe that he is immortal- master of his own universe and commander of his own destiny. And though God does gift us with free will and an ability to set our own course in a limited way- nothing could be farther from the truth. The bible tells us very plainly He is God and we are not- that He is without beginning or end, and that we had a beginning and will die- His days are without end, and ours are numbered. This truth MUST remind us of our own mortality and reminds us that no matter how great we think we can become, both as a human race, OR as individuals- we are GREATLY LIMITED in our understanding AND abilities. No matter how rich or powerful or intelligent we become we cannot create life, nor can we prevent death. We are made by Him, and therefore we BELONG to Him- let us never forget we are not our own but serve and are indebted to an all powerful Creator...