- I have to do this, even though I have better things to do. Sacrifice. Famine. Sorrow!
- Or - I will be glad to do this. It is my pleasure, my honor, my privilege.
The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Ash Wednesday, 2015
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
The Hymn #552 Abide with Me 2.11
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 1 p. 123
The Lection Joel 2:12-19
The Sermon Hymn # 17 O Worship the King 2.44
The Sermon – Lay Up for Yourselves Treasures in Heaven
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45
The Hymn # 429 Lord, Thee I Love 2.54
KJV Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
KJV Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst manifest Thyself, with the Holy Ghost, in the fullness of grace at the baptism of Thy dear Son, and with Thy voice didst direct us to Him who hath borne our sins, that we might receive grace and the remission of sins: Keep us, we beseech Thee, in the true faith; and inasmuch as we have been baptized in accordance with Thy command, and the example of Thy dear Son, we pray Thee to strengthen our faith by Thy Holy Spirit, and lead us to everlasting life and salvation, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Lay Up for Yourselves Treasures in Heaven
KJV Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
I have to wonder why so many are sour-faced, always looking like someone made them sit in a chair with tar on the seat. There is an aggrieved, angry look that I have seen in many denominations. There should be no display of works, of burdens borne, of mansions and limos left behind.
Jesus constantly attacked holiness from within, because those who looked to their own holiness could not ascribe it to faith in Jesus, in His righteousness. One excludes the other, as Paul taught about faith and works.
That means if someone is teaching works, he has no faith. That is automatic and clearly taught in Romans. Justification comes through faith or works, never a combination. A merger of two becomes works because it is a perversion of faith to say works are needed.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
The rewards are great on earth. People admire and even worship those who affect a great, pious, sad look and display their privations. You will see this with the Indian gurus. They project an aura of mystery, holiness, and severity. I find their photos to be haunting, because they want their photos hung up where their teachings are honored. And all that sanctimony is used to mislead and abuse others.
A guru or shaman must be obeyed. He has total control over his disciples, something we find in all abusive cults. No matter how many there are, people clamor to join the latest one.
Look at their rewards. They live in castles. They order people around Lawyers protect them from the law. Scientology was invented as a lark, and it dominates Hollywood now, simply because it is abusive and exploitative.
There are also the gleeful gurus. They are no different, except they affect this attitude of hearing the funniest joke a few minutes ago. I have seen so many of these poses that they give me the creeps. Europe used to avoid such poses because they make people look insane.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
This is the attitude of faith in God. The idea is not to show off, not to look grim, but to count this as nothing to fast or engage in other acts of piety. That is too often turned into "Look at what we did to please God."
This can be applied to everything we do in faith. If we enjoy doing something for others, making it look difficult and tortured is a way of gaining reward. But if we do those same things in faith, with happiness and big smiles, the opposite is true. We become what our attitude is.
We were cautioned in sales that people hear the emotional language implied in certain phrases. "To do that, I would have to..."
"O no. I don't want to bother you."
"It's OK. It is something I have to do as an agent."
The opposite is, "I will be glad to do it, Mrs. Jones." The difference is the reason why so many fail to speak up, to ask questions, to get help when they need it.
So many things are behind - I will be glad to... That shows happiness, the fun of helping in some small way. That comes from thankfulness to God.
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
God knows the counsels of the heart. If we want the admiration of others, we have our earthly reward and nothing else. In fact, such a reward is corrupting, which is why we see so many minor false teachers become major opponents of the Christian faith - like Rob Bell, who went from mega-church to calling Christianity irrelevant. And he has done very well for himself.
As Luther said, we can have peace on earth and eternity in turmoil, or turmoil on earth and peace in eternity. Because so many only pretend to believe, they seek the peace and security that man brings.
9 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
The first part is a warning from Jesus. The treasures of this earth must necessarily rot away - and thieves take them away. They are not permanent. Moreover, to protect themselves from losses, people fill themselves with anxiety. They often hide their money away, as W. C. Fields did under assumed names, and never see it again. They try this solution and that. I even met a lawyer who specialized in hiding money in various off-shore locations, away from angry spouses and (implied) snoopy gubmint agents. He had been one himself.
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Here is one of the most beautiful statements from the Gospel of Matthew, one which the Reformers borrowed many times. The treasures in heaven are the righteousness of Christ, which are freely conveyed to us through the Means of Grace.
The treasure is the Atonement of Christ, suffering for the sins of the world. But this treasure lies in one heap. It must be distributed by the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the Gospel (Word and Sacrament) so that all may benefit from this treasure. Many despise it or take it for granted, but it is the everlasting treasure of the eternal Gospel.
No one can take it away. Fire, famine, sword, peril - nothing can separate from the love of God in Christ Jesus.