Monday, February 20, 2012

Ha ha! I lied! It's another 2-for-one special!

That’s right - another 2-for-1 Monday Homily Service blog is coming your way. The reason, of course, is that you’ll be wanting some inspiration for both Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday in Lent.

Herewith - some thoughts on the gospel lesson for Ash Wednesday from Amy P. McCullough, originally offered to readers of Homily Service in 2009.

Matthew’s Gospel provides a template of the Lenten disciplines that enable us to face the deadly pieces of our lives. Here Jesus speaks of three practices: giving alms, fasting, and prayer. To give money away is to face the reality that we live in a culture dictated by financial resources. As we offer our own resources to another, we refuse the security of being defined by what we make or the possessions we have. Instead, we admit our poverty before God and our utter, ultimate dependence upon God for life. When we fast, we align ourselves with Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness and his confession that we do not live by bread alone. Fasting requires that we get in touch with our own hunger, in order to face God as the only one who truly sustains us. Lastly, in prayer we cannot escape the ways in which we have made a home away from God. Daily prayer asks that we present ourselves face to face before our Creator. This practice requires acknowledging the ways we hide from God and how we construct makeshift temporary homes in place of God’s eternal offer of a true home.

Jesus’ call to submit to the Way in our handling of our money, our food and our time is intensely counter-cultural. How will you as a spiritual leader attempt to call your fellow Christians to follow the narrow path this year?

Amy P. McCullough (2008) 25 February 2009, Ash Wednesday, Homily Service, 42:2, 7-8.

Amy P. McCullough is the senior pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland and a doctoral candidate in Homiletics and Liturgics at Vanderbilt University.

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