Happy Ash Wednesday! Wait… that can’t be right. Or can it? Adam convinces Lindsey to celebrate as we enter the season of Lent together! The Gospel for Ash Wednesday is Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21. “Jesus Unmasked” seeks to remove the masks of exclusive theology and violent cultural lenses that obscure the truth of Jesus’s unconditional love. Scripture passages are read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. “Jesus Unmasked” is a Raven Foundation production.
Happy Ash Wednesday! Let’s Celebrate!
Happy Ash Wednesday! Wait… that can’t be right! Or can it? Adam convinces Lindsey to celebrate as we enter the season of Lent together!
The Gospel for Ash Wednesday is Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21. “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
What are we to make of this warning on the one day that many of us actually wear our faith on our foreheads?
Lindsey admits that she has always enjoyed Ash Wednesday for the way it helps her feel a sense of solidarity with others in the street who wear the ashes as a visible symbol of faith. For Christians who see one another with the ashes, there’s a sense of recognition and belonging that we don’t see other days of the year.
But what if we expand our sense of solidarity beyond symbols? What if we could look at every single person and feel a sense of connection simply by virtue of our humanity? What if we remembered, in all times and places, that we are united to each other in the everlasting embrace of Love?
Repentance, to which we are called at all times but especially during Lent, is about reorienting our lives around the knowledge that we are loved. We can recognize the things we need to change about ourselves when we are secure in the comfort of the truth that will never change: we are always perfectly loved. We can reorient our whole lives around that pivotal truth.
When we pray, or fast, or work, to be seen by others, we have our reward. Recognition, esteem, status… they all feel really good! But all of these things simply orient us to crave more and more attention, and feel more loss when we lack that attention. It makes us feel as though we have to keep trying and competing over and against each other. That’s why Jesus tells us not to seek out the recognition of others, because he wants to reorient us around the Love to whom we never have to prove ourselves. From that point, we can pray and work and live for the good of others, assured of our own security.
The ashes remind us that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. But Love upholds us even beyond our mortality. So we are to store up our treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can consume. Because everything we do to build ourselves up against others will wash away, and only the Love that connects us to God and one another will remain.