Trinity News and Sermons

2018/2/14 Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Sermon for Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Worship is at 12 noon & 7:00 p.m. and ALL ARE WELCOME!
Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Mixed messages, opposing images
Look at pg. 23 of bulletin – inside back cover.
Luther’s seal
You see a black cross on what? A heart. If it was in color, the cross would be black and the heart red.
To remind us that we are sinners, that the chronic sickness of sin is in our hearts.
But to remind us that the Cross is in the heart of God.
We are dust. – humbling – saddening.
But God uses dust. We read in Genesis 2 that God formed dust and breathed into it, and Adam, humanity is created. We particles of dust that are marvelously formed, carry within us the breath of God.
We read in Ezekiel of the image of a Valley of Dry Bones – a symbolic representation of the self-image of Israel, in Exile away from the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey.
They feel cut off, from God’s promise, from God’s love, from God’ presence.
They are a valley of dry bones.
What happens to dry bones after a little more time? What do they become?
And to that dust God has the prophet call forth the wind – the Spirit of God, and it breaths upon those bones and they come alive – AN EXCEEDINGLY GREAT HOST.
God does not abandon us in our own self-image of being lost. Alone.
God is with us.
Even today, God gives us a valentine.
As we hear the words that shock us to our core:
As we have actual dust put on our foreheads to remind us of what we are –
The valentine is there.
In what form is that dust mark made?
The shape of the Cross.
This is God’s valentine to us, to remind us that, yes, because of our sin, God in Jesus had to die for us.
Yes, because of our sin, death is our future.
But that is not all.
God’s love goes for us, before us, and with us, into death and brings forth life.
We are loved. We are claimed. In our baptism we die. And then come into new life in Christ Jesus.
On Monday, JC and I saw the amazingly powerful film:
The Greatest Showman. The story of P.T. Barnum.
And while it is about him, played marvelously by the very talented Hugh Jackman, for me, it was REALLY the story of the “misfits” – that made up his circus:
• General Tom Thumb – the tiny man
• The Bearded Lady – in the movie they call her Lettie Lutz (but history reports her as Annie Jones, perhaps there were two of them)
• The tall man
• The African American trapeze artists
• The 500 pound man
• Etc.
For me, it was as much their story as it was Barnum’s.
He brings them out of the darkness and into the light – and the world makes fun of them, but they become a family, and in that family they gain courage and learn to accept themselves without shame.
(Much like the Christian family is for us!)
The most powerful song in the film for me is THIS IS ME.
Some of its words, resonated for me in preparation for this sermon:
I’m not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say: we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say: no one will love you as you are.
But, I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious!
When the sharpest words want to cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave
I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be
Look out, cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies
Another round of bullets hits my skin,
So fire away, cause today I won’t let this shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and reaching for the sun
We are warriors – that’s what we’ve become
But, I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
When the sharpest words want to cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave
I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be
We DO apologize to God for all that we have caused to him, but we don’t need to apologize that we need and crave his forgiveness, acceptance and love.
And today, in God’s valentine of the Cross,
We ARE glorious- for God makes us so.
In baptism, Jesus Christ brings a flood of marvelous love and water down upon us to drown out the shame – so that we can claim that, yes:
We are brave
We are bruised,
But we are who we are meant to be.
We are Christ Jesus’ loved children, dust, but dust with the breath of God
And loved forever more.