Ash Wednesday – “Where Is Our Heart?”
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

ashwedWe live in a culture today that is all about “Me!” It’s a culture that celebrates the individual for their achievements. The other night we watched the Grammy awards as musicians, writers, singers all were honoured for their achievements over the last year.

We’re in a world where it’s about how many people you have following you on Twitter. How many friends you have on Facebook. It’s all about our individual accomplishments, about our “fame”.

If this was not true, then we would not have so many reality television shows out there. We just wouldn’t. They could not survive without the culture we have today.

Now, I am just as guilty as anyone else. I like compliments. Most of us do. I like having my ego stroked now and then. It’s nice to know I’m wanted and that I do a good job. Right? The hard part is trying to not let it all go to your head.

So here we are tonight, hearing words of scripture telling us to not seek accolades for what we do. Telling us to pray and fast in private and not look for praise from others. To not make a public display of ourselves for our own personal gain… Trying to make ourselves look more righteous than we really are.

Lent is a time for deep personal reflection. It is a time where we recognize the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying; and facing temptation. Why? To be fully present to God and the plan which was to unfold over the next few years of his life.

Who here does something “special” for Lent? As in giving something up or taking on some other sort of spiritual practice?

I find it very interesting that Tim Hortons has it’s “Roll Up The Rim To Win” promotion every year. When does it happen? I’ll give you a hint, it starts next week, and it’s roughly the same time every year.

So at a time when people are trying to give up what they may consider to be temptations in their lives, things like caffeine or sugar, a major chain of coffee shops introduces a campaign to get people to buy more!

Sure they have a right to do it, they are their own business, they can do what they want. But at a time when their sales are probably down, they run a serious marketing campaign to make sure it goes up! And we know how successful it is, people get so excited when they hear it’s starting soon! It’s a pretty smart move on their part with a great business decision.

So whether you are fasting from something or you are trying to spend more time in prayer or reading the Bible, we know there may be things, intentionally or not, which make it hard for us to do.

But, if we are doing it for the right reasons, which is to get closer to God, our Father in heaven, then whatever we do will help us grow in the way we are hoping to grow.

Lent is a time to put away that which pulls us apart from God. It’s a time when we should look for ways to grow closer to God, in body and in spirit. A time to reflect on what is most important in our lives, and to weigh them in the shadow of the cross.

Jesus told us that “wherever are our treasures are, there our hearts will be also.”

Where is your treasure?

In the context of the church, what do we worship? Do we worship the music? Do we worship the minister? Do we worship the organ, the altar, the communion table, the furniture, the building?

Or do we worship our Lord and Saviour? The one who brings life?

Do we worship the Son of God who came to earth to show us how to love not just our friends, but our neighbours and our enemies?
Do we worship the one who came to show us the true light of the world?
Do we worship the one who showed compassion and mercy to the weak and afflicted of society?
Do we worship the one who was betrayed by a friend, yet still showed him love?
Do we worship the one who was perfect, yet was still accused?
Do we worship the one who was nailed to a cross?
Do we worship the one who died… for us?

The one who was whipped and beaten.
The one who was dragged through the streets.
The one who was treated as though he was a horrible criminal.
The one who spent 3 days in the grave.
The one who overcame death on the 3rd day.
The one who did just as he said he would, and ascended to be with God, the Father, and shows us the way to eternal life!

This is who we worship.
This is who we spend the next 40 days seeking to know more.

Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, our reason for hope in a dark world. He is our light, our life, our everything.

Is this who you worship? Is this why you are here, or wherever it is you meet on a Sunday morning?

If he’s not, I urge you to reconsider.

I urge you to take the next 40 days to read about him. To learn more. To invite Jesus Christ into your life.

Tonight you will be invited to take the mark of the cross on your forehead or your hand. It’s optional, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.

But the mark of the cross is a sign, a reminder that we have been marked by Jesus Christ as one of his own. Whether we fully believe it or not, Jesus Christ calls us his own. The invitation is there for us to receive. Always.

So tonight, as we begin the season of Lent, let us reflect on Jesus Christ, who he is, what he has done, and what he continues to do, not in some far off place, but in our lives… our hearts… our souls… today, tomorrow, and forevermore.