Sermon: Ash Wednesday 2015
A Sermon for Ash Wednesday2015
The Rev’d Thomas J. Pettigrew, Rector
The Church of the Holy Cross, Warrensburg, NY
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We gather today to begin a season of preparation. But what is it, really, that we are preparing for? That is perhaps the most important question we have to ponder this evening.
We may, perhaps, think that our Lenten activities are simply meant to prepare us for celebrating Easter. In a way, it is true we are preparing for that. But in a larger way our Lenten journey is about so much more than just that.
Lent is a season in which we prepare ourselves to spend eternity with God. It is about transforming, as Paul told us in his epistle on Sunday, from Glory to Glory in a life of service to God by becoming free from sin.
And for that reason, we should look at Lent not as a period of time on the calendar during which we are asked to take on spiritual disciplines in order to take up time left over by the things we have given up. Instead, I want to suggest to you, we should see this season of Lent as a time to establish new patterns in our lives which are conducive to our sanctification and growth in the knowledge and love of the Lord; patterns which last well beyond Lent and Easter; patterns which may hopefully last us through our whole lives.
Practically speaking, these are patters of prayer; the studying of Holy Scripture; Alms giving (charity); the spiritual discipline of self-denial (including fasting) in order to make more room for God; (following the pattern of John the Baptist who said “He must increase, and I must decrease”) and finally the pattern of repentance (by which we regularly turn to God and acknowledge before him all the many ways which we have failed to follow his commandments).
These are the practical, time tested ways which the Church calls us to observe lent. And so today, we are challenged anew to take real and practical steps towards our eternal home in the life of God.
We are aided – indeed we are empowered – in this process (and I do say process because growth God-ward takes time and patience) by the Holy Spirit, in whom, Scripture tells us, “We live and move and have our being.”(Acts 17:28)
Prayer – Study of Scripture – Charity – Fasting & Self Denial – Repentance. These five activities, if we take them seriously enough, will be the rails by which God guides us back to himself where awaits us the reward of eternal life in him.