Summary: A short Ash Wednesday Sermon that encourages us to see that your life is not about you, but Jesus’ life is
Ash Wednesday has always presented me with a problem.
As I read and research the scriptures for Ash Wednesday I get the feeling that God is saying,
Hey Richard, hey Ray, hey….(and mention others) wake up to yourself,
life is not about you,
there are more important things in your life than you.
In Matthew chapter 6 verse 1 we hear,
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.
In other words don’t be a show off.
and in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 4 we hear,
as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way in great endurance, hardships, troubles and endurance.
Don’t give up simply because you are experiencing some problems.
And a little later in the worship service each of us will have the opportunity to receive the mark of the cross, with ashes.
This ancient Christian practice is to help each one us remember who we are before God and who we need.
The words from Genesis chapter 3 are spoken and they say this,
Remember that you are dust and from dust you shall return.
Now that is a pretty devastating comment.
Being called dust is not nice,
it not only conjures up images of being insignificant
but dust is also a nuisance, irritating and at times deadly for some people.
And by ourselves that is who we would be.
Without God, without Jesus being involved in our lives.
Without Jesus being central to our lives
we would be nothing more than annoying, irritating and at times deadly creatures.
Irritating and annoying to God.
And irritating, annoying and deadly to ourselves and other people.
However there is another part to this ancient practice of receiving the ashes on our forehead that we should not miss.
The mark of the cross signifies that Jesus also came like us,
Jesus became as dust.
And this is where my problem begins.
Although Ash Wednesday has one of its purposes of reminding me,
that my life is not about me.
For Jesus it is.
Jesus’ reason for coming to earth was about me, and you,
and anyone you can possibly list.
As we heard in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Or as the New Living Translation puts it
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
The primary reason for Jesus’ coming to earth was for you and me.
So although my life is not about me, Jesus’ life is.
And this should affect how we approach life.
Instead of the most important questions in our life being;
What do I want?
What do I like?
What suits me?
Instead God is calling each of us to think about the following questions;
What does God, what does Jesus, want for me?
What does God, Jesus want me to be up to?
How does God want me to use the gifts and talents he has given me?
How does God want me to approach life?
And God’s response to these questions is far greater than a short checklist.
Throughout our life God is in a constant discussion with us.
However His discussion through St Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is a helpful start.
These are the words of someone who has adopted God’s approach to life because he sees how important Jesus is for his life.
Let’s reflect on them again
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,
as though God were making his appeal through us.
We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path,
so that our ministry will not be discredited.
4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
7 in truthful speech and in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
8 through glory and dishonour,
bad report and good report;
genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
9 known, yet regarded as unknown;
dying, and yet we live on;
beaten, and yet not killed;
10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
poor, yet making many rich;
having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
And Lent is a wonderful opportunity to spend a little more time with God gaining His insights to life.
By fasting, reading the bible more frequently, praying, and giving yourself to others through time and material possessions, hearing God becomes easier.