Lent 2014 Day 1

Trying to remember to post the devotion (written by a member of our congregation) each day. Again this season we opted to not identify the individual author of each devotion, mainly because some of the authors preferred to remain anonymous. Here’s Day #1
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Matthew 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Welcome to the world of Lent, that time when we all know we’re supposed to stop eating, or walk around with black smudges on our foreheads, or something. And most of us don’t know what, or why, just that we’re heading up to Easter which is a time of celebration, but before that is Good Friday, which is kind of a sad day. And so we get all gloomy, hoping that Jesus will see us suffering for him, and remember that when it’s our time to stand before the throne of judgment. And if other people see us too, well, it can’t hurt for a lot of people to know what good Christians we are.
And there is a lot to be said for taking the time to publicly profess our sin, and our identification with the other sinners of the world, but we are also called to repent of those sins, to turn from them.
But Jesus warned the religious elite, that it wasn’t necessarily a good thing for them to be bragging about their piety. He put fasting in the same boat as prayer and alms giving. Do it, but do it for God to see, not for the whole neighborhood. Christians will be known by their love, and by the fruit they produce, not by a dirty face and a constant frown.
Imagine how much of a poorer place the world would be if the only evidence of Christianity to be found was ashes on people’s foreheads. Confess your sins? Yes. Repent of those sins? Yes. And then go out and be the hands and heart of Jesus. Live for the living Lord, don’t be relegated to a corner of a museum, brought out and dusted off on rare occasion to show the next generation what a Christian used to look like.
Prayer: Forgiver of sins, as we enter into this somber time, help us to remember the joy that you are so eager to pour out on us as we confess and repent of our sins. Remind us for whom we take those steps so that we can be the person that you want us to be, not act like the one that we hope others will see. AMEN