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Ash Wednesday Sermon: Humble



The Gospel

Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

The Sermon

Humble, truly humble

Jesus is giving us a sermon on being humble. It dawned on me that I am giving a sermon on a sermon. I often ask myself do I really need to explain what Jesus has already very clearly told us? However, his words in this passage from Matthew do make me reflect.

I believe there are times when we should point out and give credit to the good works of others. When I was on the town council in Glenrock, Wyoming, we started a volunteer of the month recognition program. It was an attempt to raise awareness in the community of all the people who quietly offer their services to make the town a better place.

Each month we would choose one person or group who were volunteering their time for some project. We made a big deal out of it. We would have a ceremony at the beginning of the council meeting. The newspaper would take a picture of the person and write a brief summary of what contribution the person had made. The volunteer or volunteers would be given a certificate and their picture would be hung on the wall at the city hall for that month.

Often when we would notify the person of his or her selection, he or she would respectfully decline. I would then explain to them that by allowing themselves to be recognized we would bring attention to the community of the importance of volunteering. I would point out that by showcasing their work, others would come forward. They almost always agreed.

These were people who volunteered for the right reasons. They volunteered because they cared.

The same thing happened last night at the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. People volunteered because they cared. There is no glory in cooking pancakes or serving ham or washing dishes. Glory will come and it will come because of why you cooked those pancakes and served that ham. You love your church and you love your fellow man.

And the Father in heaven sees.


Amen

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