Ash Wednesday and being a #Servant

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for Ash Wednesday, March 1st, is “Servant.”

And so we are here again, Lent. To be perfectly honest with you, it has felt like Lent to me off and on for a couple months now. Maybe because of the unseasonably warm temperatures we have been having. Maybe because of the sense of worry, and anxiety I see and hear from so many. Maybe because I too feel some worry and anxiety around certain things in our world. Nevertheless, and ready or not, Lent is here again.

On Ash Wednesday we face our mortality, and “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Each year accompanying worship with the imposition of ashes comes the same gospel text from the revised common lectionary, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. This passage is an important one, but it’s also an important one for stewardship.

Here’s just a couple quick examples:

“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…”
– Matthew 6:2, NRSV.

“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 wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21, NRSV.

Why do we do what we do? What is behind our actions and choices? How do we show our faith and tell about it? How do we live our life? All of these questions and many more can be raised from these few verses alone.

Perhaps they point to a steward’s heart. But when you take the whole passage by itself, I think they point to a servant’s heart.

So what does a servant look like to you? How might you be a servant? Who might be a servant to you? 

Tom, a great example of a servant in our midst, community, and congregation, helping us unload our moving truck last fall.

I know way too many servants to just pick one, and have heard far too many stories of servants across the church and communities.

But for just one example, here’s a picture of a faithful Child of God and servant named Tom who helped us unload our moving truck back in November. He’s a long-time member of Salem Lutheran in Fontanelle, and he gives and serves in ways I am sure I still do not know. He’s also a person who does it just because he can or feels called to do it, and he’s about as kind and soft-spoken a person as you will ever meet.

For Tom, and all the servants I know and have met, I give thanks. For all of the servants out there, known and unknown, I too give thanks.

Let us pray. Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. Call forth our prayers and acts of kindness, and strengthen us to face our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

As we begin together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

Source: The prayer of the day comes from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), page 26.

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