Tag Archives: Ash Wednesday

Burn It Down! Arise!

While pondering Ash Wednesday, our Lenten journey, and the Resurrection at Easter, I am captivated by the imagery of fire and flames, the ashes left behind, and the mythical Phoenix.

We are temporary.
Ash Wednesday echoes to each person ‘remember that you are ash and to ash you shall return’. It reminds us that our physical bodies, minds, and lives are temporary, for in the grand scheme of time our existence is a mere blink of the eye.

Despite this brief existence, we are tempted to extended it through becoming legends and lifting ourselves onto a delusional pedestal built of pride, ego, and presumed (self) righteousness.

Burn it Down!
Lent is a journey of burning that delusional pedestal down to nothing but ashes.

Lent is a journey forged with vulnerability and honest self-reflection seeking to destroy that pedestal and additional barriers distracting from, challenging, and hindering our relationship with God, neighbor, and self. These barriers include, but are not limited to: Read the rest of this entry »


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Vulnerable Authenticity (Ash Wed)

WELCOME to my most beloved church season… Lent.

It is not beloved because of its sober tone or the gloom and doom, but despite it. It is beloved because of its authenticity.

Generation X and younger have especially demanded that those identifying as Christin, their faith communities and denominations, as well as the church universal be authentic and transparent. Their participation or lack thereof is often rooted in these demands.

It is not about ever-changing, energy-charged, entertaining worship.
It is not about the music, sound system, or multi-media.
It is not about coffee bars or accommodations.

Again, it is about authenticity.
But, it is challenging because it requires vulnerability and self-reflection.

Thus, Lent is our annual emphasis on removing the masks that hide our self-centeredness, insecurities, flaws, failures, and less than Christ-like thoughts, words, and deeds which harm our relationship with God, neighbor, and self.

This focus includes NOT practicing our piety and presumed righteousness before others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 26, 2020 in Sermons, Uncategorized


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The Journey of Lent: the Phoenix

Welcome to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

Lent is a solemn time in the church year, which for most seems gloomy, depressing, and dark.

I love Lent. I, actually, find it life-giving but I will get to that in a moment.

There are many ways Lent has been celebrated with different practices for the forty days of fasting, different philosophies and theories on the why and how. This is the normal direction of my Ash Wednesday sermons, but bear with me because we are doing something a little different tonight.

I was thinking what is the true intent of Ash Wednesday and Lent, not simply how we practice it. There is a poem in “Celtic Praise”* that, well, more poetically poses my question. It is entitled Controlling the Heart.

The priests tell me
that if I sin with my will and inclination,
it is as if the deed is done.
My conscience tells me,
that if I want to sin but restrain myself,
God will bless me for my virtue.
Does sin lie in the heart or in action?
Minute by minute I can control my actions,
but it takes a lifetime and more to control the heart.

It takes a lifetime and more to control the heart, after all that is where our intentions lie. Right? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Sermons


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Lent: A Pious Christian Display?

(This is what I plan to preach tonight, 18 Feb. 2015; but I don’t use a manuscript.)

I have spent the last week or so, setting up and organizing my scrapbook or craft room. The concept is that the room itself would be decorated with mementos from High School, College, my travels, and general adventures that are unable to fit within the pages of an actual scrapbook. As I finished this task the other day, I pondered how much the room seemed to be an “I Love Myself” room.

Let me explain. Most people, especially in high school, have a section of their bedroom or an entire wall dedicated to certificates, awards, and various achievements earned. In my family, this is called the “I Love Myself” wall… and now, I seem to have a whole room.

This caused me to ponder Ash Wednesday and Lent in general.

Last year, Ash Wednesday “trended” on social media. People (and congregations) encouraged others to attend worship with the clever catch-phrase “Get your Ash in Church”. And after getting the ashes, people were encouraged to take a selfie and share with the clever #AshTag. This year it has expanded with Christian companies offering individuals a chance at free items, if they do so and include the company’s hashtag as well.

Have we turned Lent, and especially Ash Wednesday, not into a “I Love Myself” wall but into a “Pious Christian” display? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Sermons


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