Ash Wednesday: February 22, 2012
Scripture reading: Matthew 6
As we begin this Lenten journey with God incarnate – in life, death, and resurrection – I humbly invite you to join me in these devotional readings.
Our text today is really all about God and the teachings of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. Immediately preceding our pericope, Jesus has told his audience to love their enemies and to pray for them. Following the selected text, Jesus instructs people not to judge because we will be judged in the same light. In the first section of today’s text, the Lord warns against public piety (actively expressing one’s devotion to God through deed and practice) saying that pious actions are not to be done for show (I sincerely hope this devotional doesn’t fit such a description).
In giving and in prayer (vv. 1-6) we’re told not to show off what we do for God or that will be the extent of our reward. Throughout the discourse (Mt. 5:1-7:28) we are given instructions of orthopraxy (correct practice) and the same is true for this pericope.
In turn, we are taught to pray the Lord’s Prayer. We pray to “Our Father in heaven,” the generator of all things; whose name is pure, “hallowed be your name.” We are to pray with reverence and humility because our prayers, our giving, our possessions, our daily needs, and our fasting (which is important to Lent) are all about God. Jesus’ teaching in this discourse is really all about God: how we serve God, how we pray to God, how we treat people in the name of God, and how we respond to the work of God.
Lord, God, thank you for your word and this difficult teaching that really says control is not ours to have because you have originated all things. Thank you for the fact that your grace is what saves us, through the cross. May we be ever humbled by this passage and remember that our hope is in you and not in the showiness of our deeds or piety. Thanks be to God, The message of the scriptures continue to transcend culture and remain relevant in this world,. We pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.