Summary: The Season of Lent is a time to live out discipleship in the world. A close look at how God rewards us as we journey these forty days of Lent From Ashes to Alms. How do you answer the call of Lent?
“Lent From Ashes to Alms”
“Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1-4
Intro: Many years ago I was pastor of an average church that had about 65 in Sunday morning worship. It was a church that had a sense of value from everyone knowing each other on a personal level and by calling one another by their first name. There was a senior member by the name of Bob who kept to himself mostly on Sunday morning. He did not serve on any church committee. He did not express his opinion very often. Usually not even when asked. I did notice his car at the church fairly frequently and he and I became great friends. Into my third year as pastor the man became ill with cancer and after a very a short time developed pneumonia and passed away. Everyone at his funeral expressed kind words. Things like, “He never complained about anything.” “He was always faithful to be at church every time the doors were open.” And other comments about his “being a very private person who mostly stayed to himself.”
A couple of months after his passing I was still missing our talks and just seeing him around the church. Then one day, a member of the congregation approached me about the light on the outside church sign not shining at night. I called the chairperson of the Trustees to inform him of the need to check the light. He told me that in all his years at the church he had never known the bulb to burn out and did not even know where the key was to unlock the lid to change it.
A few weeks later the clock on the wall in the sanctuary stopped working. I took the clock down and it turned out to simply be that the batteries needed changing. When it was pointed out one lady said that in all her years of coming to church she never knew the clock to stop working or the batteries to need changing.
Sometime later I noticed a hinge on one of the cabinet doors in the fellowship hall was loose. I heard many people complain about the hinge being loose but no one took time to fix it.
After several more similar incidents occurred it became more and more apparent that Bob was the one who fixed things and kept things going smoothly at the church. No one was aware of just how much Bob had done. The quiet old man who had kept mostly to himself was the one who kept the light bulbs changed, the batteries in the clock changed, the broken hinges repaired, and the list went on and on.
Today there is a plaque on the wall in the church fellowship hall that reads, “Thank you Bob Griffin for all the times your work went unnoticed, “We Appreciate You.”
Every time I think about that plaque I wonder how often people do work and service that goes unnoticed until they are gone. There is a poem that is titled, “Give Me My Flowers While I Yet Live” that says, “Whether they be real flowers or simply words of Love, give them to me while I'm here, God will give them to me above.” How often do we wait until people are gone to give them their flowers? Do you tell people how much you appreciate them while they are still living among you?
Today we are going to talk about “Lent From Ashes to Alms.” As we celebrate the Holy Season of Lent the scripture from Matthew 6:1-4 becomes more and more full of meaning. The Season of Lent is a time to reflect on how we live out discipleship in the world around us. You will hear people say it is a time to have an “Attitude of Gratitude. It is a time to reflect and repent. The author and hymn writer Johnson Oatman Jr. wrote a song based on the scripture foundation from Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
Count your blessings; name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done.
Count your many blessings name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Do you truly count your blessing? Do you show others just how important they are to God? Do you tell them that they matter, that they are appreciated?
On television this week I heard a discussion about the trend called “Shame Dieting and Exercising.” The premise is to point out one’s body shape with negative words and phrases that motivate the person to want to change their eating habits and start exercising.