Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
Joel 2: 12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:20; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

“Return to me with your whole heart…”

The prodigal son returned but was it with his whole heart?
It never strikes me as that way.  Having realizing he was hungry and poorly treated,
we hear him rehearse his speech for his father as he walked back home.
Were his motives genuine?

His brother did not return.

Lost sheep don’t return; they sit in the high grass waiting to hopefully be found.

What of the rich, young man whom Jesus challenged to sell all his possession and give to the poor? Having sadly walked away from Jesus because of the amount of his possessions,did he ever rethink his choice and return?   We don’t know.

After the death of Jesus, the apostles returned; but they returned to their old way of life, fishing.

Returning is not easy.

How often have our motives been mixed or grounded in our more base cravings? Once Lent is over with, how often do we return to our old, comfortable ways of living…sinning? Isn’t it easier to stubbornly hold on to hurts rather then move beyond them?

Why in the end do our encounters with Jesus through his Word and Sacraments fail to fully convert us? Why is there a gap, this black hole, between our holiest and cherished religious prayers and practices and what we hope they will accomplish in us?

Might it be an inability on our part to discern what is good for us?  Do we submit our desires and hopes to the Father?  You know, “thy will be done”.   Or do we continually forget to ask God whether the things we want are the things we ought to want?

Returning isn’t easy, is it?
When we return, we may not find things the way they were…including ourselves.  Yet “everything is pointless if there’s no way back.”

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