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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sermon 02132013 Ash Wednesday


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Almighty and everlasting God, because You hate nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent, create in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily repenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  AMEN.

Today we enter the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday.  We come to confess our sins, receive forgiveness and be reminded that from dust we came and to dust we shall return.  Today we begin a long journey which will culminate in the Three Day Period, known as the Tridiuum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  Today we will no longer hear acclamations of praise until the stone is rolled away.  Today we begin with ashes.

It is clear from the Old Testament that ashes are a sign of repentance.  And it is appropriate that the first person in our series of People and Places of Lent begins with a man for which a whole book is written of his journey of his experience with Satan in his life.  Tonight/Today we begin with Job.

Job 1:13-22
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking winein their oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Clearly from this passage Job has just experience the greatest single loss in the span of a few moments.  Jobs loss is not just of possession by a warring tribe, the loss of wealth in the animals and herds that were destroyed by the ‘fire of God’ or the personal loss of his family, sons, daughters and heirs to the wealth he had amassed.  All of this loss was the result of the simple act of a fallen angel, Satan.  Job known by God as a ‘perfect and upright man, one that feareth God’ had been placed in the hands of Satan, with the exception that Satan could not touch Job personally.

Hence, Job’s experience as we have heard changed his reality from one of plenty to one of poverty, from one of having family to losing his family.  Job personally experienced the depth loss unlike any other biblical character.  And what did Job do after hearing this news of tragedy and loss, “Job arose, and rent his clothes, and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshiped.”

As we place ashes on our foreheads today/tonight, Job reminds us that even in great loss we are not called to blame, betray or ball out against anyone, and especially God.  Job reminds us that we are called to repentance.  Job tearing his clothes and shaving his head just like our putting ashes in the sign of the cross on our foreheads is to remind us that everything we have is a gift of God.  Job further reminds us with the truth, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return: the Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  God should be blessed no matter the tragedy, the circumstance nor the outcome.  We are in God’s hands and called to worship.

What we may not realize is that Job’s falling and worshiping is a clear tie to Jesus Christ when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, worshiping and praying for the cup to be taken from Him.  Jesus prayer was for God to take the cup, if it was His will, but Jesus trusted God and asked for God’s perfect will to be fulfilled.  This only occurred with Jesus innocent death on Calvary for you and for me.

With our worship today/tonight, may we see Job as an example for us and seek to humbly worship God and with the sign of the cross on our forehead with ashes to enter into the season of Lent with penitent hearts.  For from dust we came and to dust we shall return and with Job may we give thanks and praise to God and Bless His Holy Name as we enter this Lenten Season following the people and places of Lent.  For our journey is to the Cross of Calvary where Jesus Christ died for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel today/this evening on this Ash Wednesday.  AMEN.
//trial script