Last night at the Ash Wednesday worship we prepared our minds, hearts, and spirits for this season of Lent. We heard Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount about praying in private—getting away from the public where the noise of our praying can get lost in the rest of the noise. And throughout Lent, in the “Sounds of the Passion” sermon series, we will be engaging these sounds, and “Listening for God” (our Lent theme) in those sounds, and with what God would have us understand and live out in relation to what those sounds themselves can mean. The series is listed below, as well as on the home page of the church website.
But last night was about “Getting Away from the Noise” and getting connected with God so that we can better listen to God within the noise. We recalled some of the times when Jesus “got away” and what the reasons were that he did: the death of a friend, clarifying his purpose, choosing his disciples, praying for God’s will and not his own (as his crucifixion loomed over him) and even something as simple as pausing in the midst of conversation to give thanks for a meal. It is these times away from the noise that give us the perspective to hear God in the noise, in the midst of the noise, and speaking to us how to understand what the noise itself represents.
Because, let’s face it, our lives are noisy.
This coming Sunday, the “sound of the Passion” is “The Thud of the Hammer”. Jesus is nailed to the cross—and a hammer is used to pound the nails. But crucifixion is not the only thing that hammers are used for; in fact crucifixion is not a huge part of our lives, and very unlikely to be the times we hear the thud of a hammer. Constructing things is more likely; perhaps “deconstructing” them too. We don’t likely think of Jesus being nailed to a cross when we hear the thud of a hammer. But perhaps, during Lent, as we listen for God in regular, everyday sounds, we might consider the times when the hammer may be doing that, indirectly and/or metaphorically. As we listen for God, we may be surprised what God causes us to hear.
GOSPEL Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Ash Wednesday
1“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. 2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5“ And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you
16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
GOSPEL John 19:17-22 First Sunday of Lent
17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth,* the King of the Jews.’ 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’22 Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’