Ash Wednesday, 2017 march 1 Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Today begins our season of Lent. A time to prepare ourselves for our Easter celebration. But before we get to Easter, like Jesus in the wilderness who was tempted for 40 days, we too are called to face our demons, to face our dark side, the side we know is not in the light, the side of ourselves that pulls us away from the Light.
On Ash Wednesday, we begin that process. We start to look at ourselves in earnest.
Le carême est notre temps de réflexion, cette période d’examen de conscience.
With the imposition of the ashes we are reminded of our mortality, but more importantly, we recognize the darkness within and we say we want to walk towards the light. The ashes become a sign of our repentance.
At the back of the church, you will find a little Lenten devotional to help you in that process. It is drawn from the Gospel passage of the day where Jesus is challenging his listeners to be sure that their actions, that on the outside might look very pious, are truly motivated by what is most important, God’s justice.
Jesus talks about giving, about praying, about fasting, about our basic priorities in life, on what drives us. It is important to be clear. Jesus never questions that we are to do these things. It is just that we are invited to ask ourselves, what is our motivation.
For almsgiving, which means giving to those who are in need, do you do it for show, to get the credit, the admiration of others, or do you do it simply because you are doing what God has called you to do? God wants a just world where people share what they have with those in need. God knows when you are giving, with that in mind and that is enough.
Le petit dépliant préparé pour le carême vous donne plusieurs suggestions comment vous pourrez donner. On n’est pas tous appelé à travailler pour des organismes qui œuvrent à établir une société qui reflètent les valeurs de Dieu, sa justice, mais on est tous appeler à faire ce qu’on peut pour l’établir. Chaque geste de charité fera la différence.
Jésus nous invite donc à donner à ceux et celles en besoin, pas pour la reconnaissance des autres, mais pour le plaisir de Dieu.
If we look at Jesus sayings concerning prayer, it seems that in the first century, some people must have prayed out in public, to be noticed. Jesus tells people to pray in private. This is not to exclude public worship though. Although I do believe it challenges us to keep in mind that God wants prayers that come from the heart.
In our day and age, we are more likely to fall on the side of never praying aloud. I became aware of this in the French bible study group, Pain, Partage et Prière. Having ministered in protestant churches for over 30 years, I discovered that the idea of praying for the person next to you at the close of our gathering was alien to them…I don’t think this is specific to just the French community. What we have worked out is that at the end of our gathering, with people holding hands in a circle, individuals mention the issues they heard shared from the others. These petitions, just said, have become the prayers of the people, simple and from the heart.
Notre dépliant du carême nous invite à trouver une façon qu’on pourra prier, qui sera entre nous et Dieu :
- quelques minutes de silence, le matin, le soir,
- dans le métro ou l’autobus,
- en méditant le soir sur votre journée,
- en tenant un journal ou même en dessinant.
Jésus nous invite à prier, et de laisser nos cœurs nous guider avec le comment.
In the gospel passage, Jesus goes on to talk about fasting. There again, it sounds like some would be fasting for show.
Now, I don’t think that is likely an issue for today. Rather, we have forgotten how and why one would fast. We have somehow disconnected our bodies from our spiritual life. We have forgotten that it can be good for our spiritual life to forego some things.
During Lent though, the idea of giving up something is left over from a period where people knew it could help their spiritual life.
The Lenten aid presents the idea of fasting as putting aside something. Plusieurs choses sont suggérées qu’on pourrait mettre de côté pour le carême qui pourrait nous aider à nous rapprocher de Dieu. La liste inclus des choses à quoi on pourrait s’attendre, comme l’alcool, et les desserts, mais on trouve aussi le commérage, Facebook, le sarcasme, la TV/Netflix. On aurait pu aussi ajouter la pornographie. Ce qu’on met de côté est très particulier à nos propres vies.
The list is not exhaustive. What are you called to put aside so you will draw closer to Jesus’ way, to God’s kingdom?
Jésus nous invite donc à mettre de côté ce qui nous éloigne de lui.
Finally, Jesus invites us to ask ourselves what is motivating us in general. In our daily lives, where are we putting our energy? Where are we storing up our treasures? What is motivating your life?
Jésus nous invite à nous questionner, sur ce qui nous motive dans la vie. Est-ce que c’est notre propre bien ou la justice du Royaume de Dieu?
Brothers and sisters, Jesus invites us, during this time of Lent, to seriously look at what we are doing with our lives and how we can draw closer to His light, to His Kingdom.
Mes frères et sœurs, prenons ce carême pour nous demander ce qu’on peut faire pour nous approcher de Dieu. AMEN.