Rose-Colored Glasses

2021-02-17 – Ash Wednesday – The Rev. Christopher Canon M. Klukas
Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 103:8-14; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

  • Rose-colored glasses.
  • Our first house: a beautiful old farmhouse from 1873 with enormous stained glass windows, taken from an old church, mounted in the stairwell.
    • The plaster was falling off the walls, the ceilings started to fall down, there were roof issues with leaks, the yard was more than we could take care of, and despite being high on a hill, there were flooding issues!
  • Sometimes we see our lives through rose-colored glasses. We see all of the ways that we consider ourselves to be “good Christian people” when the reality is that we could all use a little (or a lot!) of work.

Contrite Hearts

  • Today is a day to admit our wrong-doings and the impurities of our hearts.
  • We will soon put ashes on our foreheads and kneel to confess our sins.
    • Ashes are a sign of repentance that goes back to the ancient traditions of the OT.
    • We acknowledge with that black smudge that all is not well with us. That we are sinners in need of a savior. They are a way to humble ourselves before God.
  • Isaiah 58
    • The people were wondering why God didn’t seem to be hearing their prayers despite all of their sacrifices and fasting (v. 3a)
    • God answers with words that sting – v. 3b-4
    • Do you remember your arguments with your siblings growing up? Think about the kind of apology you would give when your parents required it of you. Did that apology truly represent repentance? No!
    • Did your brother or sister take your apology to mean much of anything? No!
  • The Lord desires for us to have contrite hearts.
    • Psalm 51:17
      • Not just saying that you are sorry with your lips, but feeling sorry in your heart.
    • Our sins should grieve us because of the way they hurt God and others. Until our hearts are broken over our sin we have no business engaging with outward signs of repentance.
    • Our outward actions of repentance are far less important than having a contrite heart.
    • Isaiah 58:6-7 – God’s chosen fast. God wanted the people to change their behavior and their hearts, to turn away from their oppression of the poor and the injustice of their society. He wants the same from us.

Ash Wednesday

  • This day is called “Ash Wednesday” because its distinctive feature is the imposition of ashes.
    • The most important feature, however, is the Confession of Sin and Litany of Penitence which follows the imposition of ashes.
    • As we pray our way through this litany, let the words penetrate deep into your heart. Open yourself up to the voice of the Holy Spirit as he convicts you of your sin.
    • As the Lord brings specific sins to your mind, repent of each one in turn.
      • “Lord have mercy upon us: for we have sinned against you.”
    • As you receive the ashes this evening, remember they are an outward symbol of what should be going on in your heart.

The Compassion of our God

  • Isaiah 58:8-9a
  • The compassion of God is never far from us. He is always right there, waiting for us to turn our backs on sin and return to him. Even if you have sinned in the same way over and over again!
    • Psalm 103:8.
  • Sometimes we are reluctant to confess our sins. We would rather hide them and pretend that they aren’t there.
    • I once had an infected toe that hurt so much I could barely walk on it.
    • I asked the prayer ministers at my church to pray for me, and they did, but they also asked if I had gone to see a doctor about it.
    • I hadn’t, it had already been five days of pain, but I hadn’t gone to see the doctor because I was scared about how they might remedy the situation.
  • Perhaps you fear the sting of God’s judgment, but let me remind you that God’s judgment is on those who haven’t turned to him in repentance.
    • As soon as we repent, he is like the father of the prodigal son, opening his arms to embrace his son who once was lost but now is found.
  • Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he set our sins from us.”

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