A Sermon for Ash Wednesday

“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).
Let us pray. Dear God in Heaven, we ask you to join us here, and we trust that you are here with us. May my words be your words, and all of our thoughts, your thoughts. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Today, we gather together for a unique purpose. Unlike any other service in the course of the year, unlike any Bible study, any prayer group, any fellowship dinner…tonight we come together to intentionally disobey the Bible. Worse, we’re going to intentionally disobey Jesus Christ’s specific instructions! Toward the end of this service, I’ll invite you to come forward to receive the imposition of ashes. I’ll make a mark on your forehead, and then you’ll go to work. Everyone will know where you’ve been. They might not know what particular kind of church you’ve been to, but they will definitely know something about your spiritual life…your life of faith. So listen again to Jesus’ words: “Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven... But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4). So exactly what are we doing here?