Day 336 | Thursday, 18 February 2021
I was thinking about the Lenten journey for 2021 and wondering about the practice of “giving up something for Lent” when we have given up so much over these many months. So many sacrifices have been made this past year. Then I re-read the scripture from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 that was assigned for Ash Wednesday. I share the translation from The Message for your reflection. There is just something about the words Eugene Peterson has used in this section that makes me stop and contemplate while at the same time bringing some chuckles to my reading. I chuckle because as I am reading through this passage, I have known some “play-actors” who want to be noticed for their theatrical performances. I imagine that occasionally God needs a good laugh.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 The Message:
1 "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.
2 "When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure - 'play-actors' I call them - treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get.
3 When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks.
4 Just do it - quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
5 "And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
6 "Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
16 "When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity, but it won't make you a saint.
17 If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face.
18 God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well. A Life of God-Worship
19 "Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars.
20 Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars.
21 It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
A Prayer for Lent
“O God our deliverer, you led your people of old through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide now your people, that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.” (The Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978 and The United Methodist Hymnal page 268)
Today: Pray for truck drivers who are delivering the vaccine throughout the country.