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“Rend your hearts, not your garments!”

February 18, 2010

I had the pleasure of preaching at the noon Liturgy of the Word yesterday at our parish in observance of Ash Wednesday; I was again blown away by the number of people who took the time to come out for prayer and worship of our Lord to start their Lenten observance.  Nice crowd!

I chose to talk primarily from the reading from the prophet Joel, coupled with the reading from the 2nd letter of Paul to the Corinthians.  I thought I would share a couple of thoughts from that, because it struck me as important.

WHy were we in church yesterday?  It wasn’t a holy day (at least no holier than the day before).  There were certainly other things we all could have been doing than sitting in a church, watching some big black man wave his hands around.  What in the world brought us to church on such a day? 

What brought us there was a desire, on some level, to make a break with what has gone before.  Every one of us in that room walked in the door with something in our lives that was out of kilter, some place in our daily walk in which we were being unfaithful to he reason for our creation.  We have all been created to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with God forever in the next (Baltimore Catechism, Question 6); to the extent that we have turned away from that reason for our creation, we fall short of God’s call on our lives.

So, Lent gives us a chance to pause, to examine our lives, and to make the changes we need to make in order to be more faithful to the God to whom we owe our very existence.  Paul quoted Isaiah 49:8 in saying, “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”  When is that acceptable time for each of us?

One thing that is a guarantee for each of us is that we will NOT live forever, at least, not in these bodies.  How long do we have?  Only God knows for sure.  But what is certain is that we each face a choice, every day: a choice between life and death; a choice between faithfulness and disobedience.  A choice between serving God…or serving ourselves.  Which will we choose?  And when is the time to make that choice?

PAul says, “NOW is the acceptable time.  NOW is the day of salvation.”  I think I agree.  What better time than now, to “Rend our hearts, and not our garments”, to examine our lives and tear out the parts that are not worthy of our call to know, love, and serve God?  What better time?

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