RCL Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:1-2 and 12-17, Psalm 103:8-14, II Corinthians 5:20b–6:10, Saint Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21

“[S]tore up for yourselves treasures in heaven[.]”[1]

You will agree that we are living through difficult times. Pandemically, geopolitically, and culturally, the world is in chaos. Make no mistake, however; the macrocosm is in chaos, because its chaos may be found in every single microcosm, every single human being. Every person has been at one time or another the caged animal, the despotic tyrant, the Vladimir Putin of his or her family, his colleagues, or her associates. No one is immunized from this chaos. Potentially every one of us will act out again. Original sin stains all of us without exception. The remedy is found in the Gospel of our Savior: “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”

Immediately after this homily, I shall use the words of the Prayer Book to invite you to observe a holy Lent. Particularly, I shall invite you to “self-examination and repentance,” “prayer, fasting, and self-denial,” and “reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”[2] Every effort you make in these areas becomes a treasure in heaven, there forever. Every effort stands eternally to your credit, identifying you as a Christian, Christ’s own for ever.

There is no shame in needing to do these things. There is only honor and blessing in your tangible identification with Christ’s sacrifice upon the Cross. There is only salvation of your soul, redemption from sin and death, in virtue of Christ’s free and willing sacrifice of himself for you. There is only “a clean heart” and a renewed and “right spirit”[3] waiting for you to try on and to be worn for ever.

[1] Saint Matthew 6:20.

[2] BCP, page 265.

[3] Psalm 51:11.