Ash Wednesday – returning home to God

Tonight is a night when God calls us to come home

To return to God who is our home. To admit that we don’t do so well when we wander out there in the world all by ourselves –

That we need God to love, guide, sustain and renew us

Tonight is , a night when we remember we are not God

To return to being human – created from dust. That we are fragile, not invincible. Mortal – not godlike. To admit, that we don’t do our best, when we are out there in the world thinking we are the ones in charge.

That we need God to protect, strengthen and guide us.

Tonight is a night when we admit all the things that get in between our own humanity and the God who is our home

Otherwise known as our sins

These are usually the times when we think we are in charge or we think we are god. They usually don’t end up well for us

And often don’t end up well for other people

They include the usual list of sins which are all about how we treat other people and how we ignore the guidance of God

But from our scriptures tonight, we can see t is also about the intention of our hearts.

The times we worship God but forget the needs of the poor or suffering. The times we give alms or pray – but do it for the wrong reasons. The times we think we are holy, which usually means we are far away from being so.

So the stuff that gets in the way of our relationship wit God – is sometimes not even just what we do but the way we do it. Our intentions, motivation and thoughts – that no one can see – even as we get our praise from others.

And so tonight the game is up. With a great sigh of relief we can stop – trying to be something that we are not.

We can stop wandering on our own as if we have no home.

We can stop leading the show as if God was not in charge

We can admit to God the obvious sins we try to hide. And we can even take a look at the intentions of our hearts without being afraid …

Because tonight we make our homecoming.

To the heart of God’s love for us. That God the Creator is the one who made us of the dust. That God the Savior redeems us in this story of suffering, death and resurrection that we experience this season .

That God the Holy Spirit remains with us every day as our surest comforter and guide.

And that when we return to the dust at the end of our mortal days, we are just brought closer into the center of this home. To the mansion with many dwelling places that Jesus prepares for us

So Ash Wednesday and the whole of Lent – call us to self-examination, so we can – reconnect to this powerful guiding and saving love of God. To return to our need for Jesus.

We don’t practice Spiritual Disciplines in ash Wednesday or in the season of Lent because we are seeking to do a job here – make our salvation happen somehow. Or forgetting our joy in Jesus – or just being really depressed.

We are doing it – so – as Paul says – we don’t take the grace of God in vain

We don’t take the grace of God in vain.

Because as scripture tells us in 1 John – if we say we have no sin we lie and the truth is no in us. But if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us

To bring us back to our home with God

So tonight we take the time to say what should be so obvious…. But after a year of living our own lives, after a year of busy-ness, after a year of our own plans and preoccupations, it so often does not seem to be….

And that is, that we are human. We are created. We are fragile. We are prone to get things wrong. We have a habit of getting lost when we wander away. We are in danger of getting a little too excited about our own plans or our own power

That we need that love and guidance of God to be center in our lives

And so there’s no time like the present. There is no relief like now. There is no peace like we get when we turn back to God

So tonight, I entreat you on Behalf of Christ – be reconciled to God. Come home. Because Jesus became sin who knew no sin so that we might have the love of God as our own.

It is a joy to stop wandering around pretending we know where we are gong. It is a relief it is to admit we sin and stop trying to run show. It is a freedom to know – that amazing power and grace of God is for us

Just waiting for us .

So tonight I will take a moment to invite you to the observance of a holy lent. A time of self-examination. A time to give something up, so that we can feel in a small way how much Jesus gave up for us. So we can feel our need for him more deeply.

A time to take something on – like scripture reading or prayer, to recenter God’s love in our lives. To delve deeper into the blessing of this home he gives us

SO tonight. Do not take the grace of God in vain

Recommit to it. Re-experience it. Recenter God in our lives by un-centering ourselves and all our plans and power.

Because Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the moment God calls to you and asks you to be the Creature who trusts in the Creator.