Sermon: RCL A – Ash Wednesday

George Sweeting, former President of Moody Bible Institute and author tells the following story: “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls. “I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the carcass of a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.”

I think this is sometimes how we live our lives, riding along the edge. As St. Paul says, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:19) Sometimes these wrong actions are one time mistakes and at other times they are habitual.

The season of Lent is a time to stop and reflect, to evaluate our lives and our actions, and to bring them in line with the ways of God. It is a time of repentance, yet we must remember, it is not repentance that saves us. Repentance is the act of turning from the sin and we are not made right with God through our own actions. We are made right with God because Christ died.

Therefore, during this Season of Lent, as the invitation to the observance of a holy Lent instructs us, I encourage you to daily reflect on your life and the life that God would have you lead, and then, over the course of this Lenten journey, if you discover that you are in fact close to the edge, then turn and return to the Lord, for “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Let us pray: O gracious Master, infuse in our hearts the spotless light of Your Divine Wisdom and open the eyes of our mind that we may understand the teachings of Your Gospel. Instill in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments, so that having curbed all carnal desires, we may lead a spiritual life, both thinking and doing everything to please You. For You, O Christ, our God, are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies; and to You we render glory, together with Your eternal Father, and with Your all holy, life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.

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