February 13, 2013: Ash Wednesday, the First Day of Lent

February 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” ~Matthew 6.25~

Picking up where we left off in Matthew 6, we find ourselves hearing Christ teach about material possessions, wealth, and serving God. He has just spoken the famous line, “You cannot serve both God and money.” After setting up a clear distinction between the two, Christ tells his audience not to be worried about some very basic things.

This teaching seems almost flippant! It would have been one thing for Christ to say, “Don’t worry about having enough fine wine or caviar, and please don’t fret if your Cadillac gets stolen.” But Jesus specifically tells his audience not to worry about everyday life – the basics. Feeding one’s family and paying the mortgage were no less concerns then than they are now, but Christ says not to worry.

We will explore the meaning of Christ’s teaching over the next several days, but we get a hint right here: There’s more to life than food and clothing, and such things are not worthy of worry. We should still seek to provide such basic necessities for our loved ones, but we should not worry about them. We’ll see why in the next few verses.

Today is Ash Wednesday. If you attend an Ash Wednesday service (I hope you do; a powerful way to begin the season), you may hear the words, “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” These words act as a strong reminder of our own human weakness and impermanence compared with God’s strength and timelessness. As we think about our own worries, we would do well to ask ourselves how many of the things that we fret about are “dust” as well.

Then, let’s go one step further: as we think about fasting, let’s ask God which worries we can fast from this season. Yes, Lent is a somber time of reflection, repentance, prayer, and service; however, it is not a time of worry.

Lord Christ, I confess that I worry often about many things. I hear your Word and want to obey, but teachings like these don’t make much sense; how can I not worry about the basic necessities of life? Please help me to always see your big-ness when I think of my small-ness, and help me release my worries. Amen. 

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