“In the Secret”
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

In the secret, in the quiet place
In the stillness You are there.
In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait,
Only for You,’cause I want to know You more;

I want to know You,
I want to hear Your voice
I want to know You more.
I want to touch You,
I want to see Your face
I want to know You more.

I am reaching for the highest goal,
that I might receive the prize.
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside,
Out of my way, ’cause I want to know you more
(In the Secret ~ Andy Park)

Tonight marks the beginning of Lent for the Christian church around the world. Lent is a journey we all embark on. It’s a traditional time for prayer, fasting and giving.

In a world that demands so much of our time and attention, this is a time to fight back.

We live in a world where we face the desires of the flesh continually. We are pushed to buy things, to have more and more and more treasures for ourselves. Fancy cars. Gigantic houses. Toys. Games. Exotic vacations. It’s a lot to live up to.

But that’s not what Jesus teaches us to do.

In our reading from the Gospel of Matthew we read some strong words for those who flaunt the superiority. The adoration from other people is their reward, but that’s as far as it goes Jesus tells us.

What is most important in a life of faith is what is in our hearts. Jesus tells us it is how we conduct ourselves in our private, quiet moments which gets our reward. It is our quiet prayer and devotional time, our moments where we try and get to know God more.

It’s in these quiet, personal moments where we have the ability to listen to what God may have to say to us. It’s more than just getting to church that makes a good Christian. A good Christian lives out their faith values each and every day.

Prayer, fasting and giving. The traditional spiritual exercises of Lent. All of which designed to move us into a closer relationship with God through knowing Jesus Christ and what he has done for us.

All of which help us to refocus the priorities of our lives so we can start to weed out those things which distract us from deepening our relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son. They help us to become more in tune with what God is doing in, through and around us by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Part of this refocusing requires an act of repentance. That is confessing our sins, confessing that we are not worthy of such a gift from God, because we are sinners.

In a few minutes we’re going to come together and be marked with ashes in the sign of the cross. This is an old testament tradition where people who are sinners, those who have committed crimes contrary to the laws of God, they would be marked with ashes as a sign of mourning and repentance.

We are here tonight to begin this journey. Tonight we begin a time of reflection, a time of repentance, a time of prayer and a giving of ourselves to the one who saves us.

May we all journey towards the cross with Jesus Christ as the priority in our lives. May this season of Lent prepare us in ways we’ve never imagined as God works within us, transforming us into His children who feel His love and work to share it with the world.

May we know God more, through His Son, Jesus Christ, who came, lived, taught, healed, died and rose again for each and every one of us who come to believe. Thank you God for making yourself known to us. May we know You.