Almsgiving, Prayer & Fasting
Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 103 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"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."
Lucky our cat is seventeen years old and he does a lot of sleeping. He was a great mouser in his day. I remember the day he brought three different mice! He is clearly not doing his job of keeping down the mouse population these days. When I brought up the boxes with the Christmas ornaments I found that the red ribbons had been chewed, pretty boxes and paper materials had been chewed and shredded, leather covers had been chewed through and even plastic cases had been nibbled. Wow! I was not impressed.
Salt and rust and time take their toll on our vehicles. Doors rust out, brakes fail, transmissions give up the ghost. We all know about putting our trust in material things, eventually they will fail us.
We know the sayings; “if I want something done right I need to do it myself.” “It’s cancer and there is nothing we can do.” “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” We want to trust our family and friends. We want to trust our leaders, government, religious and economic, but often we are disappointed. We trust in ourselves and then are struck by a chronic or crippling disease or a sheer lack of time and resources and we cannot meet our own expectations. In who or what can we trust?
Through our faith we come to learn and know that we can trust God. We make our pledge of time, talent and treasure to St. James, to the Boy Scouts, to GED, we run for public office, we provide a community supper, a reading camp and are busy working on setting up a community garden, but why are we doing it? Are we looking for praise and admiration from our friends and neighbors? Are we looking to bring honor to St. James and another write-up in the eNews or The Recorder?
Why do we pray? What do we expect to get out of it? Do we pray for our own benefit or for the benefit of someone else or to God?
Do you fast or give up something for Lent? I have given up sugar on my cereal in the past. Maybe we give up meat or smoking or ice cream or even chocolate, but what is the purpose of this fast? What do we hope to gain from giving something up?
Part of the reason is to develop the ability to resist temptations, to not be controlled by our desires. When we give up a TV program and spend that time reading with a child, we are moving our focus from ourselves to someone else and their needs. When we fast for a day, it helps us develop compassion towards those who may not eat on a regular basis and perhaps even a desire to do something about it.
Lent is a penitential season when we recognize that we are sinners in need of the grace and mercy of God and our neighbors. Lent is a time when we remember our own mortality, that we may be someone today, but who will remember us in the twenty-second century and if they do, why? Lent is a time for repentance and reconciliation with God and our neighbor. Lent is a time to consider how our faith has changed our lives and our interactions with the community around us. I invite you in this Lenten season to consider in whom and in what you trust for your safety, your health and your very life.
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Mother Darlene Kuhn
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