Ash Wednesday, (February 18, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn (Matthew 6:1–6, 16–20)
Part One of a Nine Part Series on the Lord’s Prayer
TITLE: “Our Father”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Matthew chapter six. We are also looking at the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, Who Art in Heaven”.
Today/tonight we begin the Holy Season of Lent, where repentance and faith are foremost in the mind, where turning away from the things of this world and turning toward the things of God are in the front of our minds. It is a time of identity, for it is a time of remembering who we are as God’s holy children.
But that is not something we do by nature. We tend to treat God more like our butler than Our Father. God is the one who comes when I need Him, who fixes problems when I have them, and who will dutifully fade into the background when, well, when I have more important things to do. In other words, we have forgotten our relationship with our heavenly Father entirely. We have sold the birthright of being children of the Heavenly Father for something less, much, much less.
Prayer is a conversation God starts in His Word, but you can hardly tell it by how we treat it. We tend to treat prayer as the afterthought, like the college student who only calls home when he needs money or a ride. We hardly treat prayer like the very heartbeat of our relationship to Him, the essence of our place as God’s children.
God invites you to believe that He is your Father, the one of loves you above all and who gives Himself completely, utterly to you. He wants to be your Father, not your butler, not your maid, or your judge, or your policeman. He wants to comfort you and give you Himself. Remember again St. John’s words, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1 ESV)
But you cannot receive Him as your Father. Not on your own. Your relationship to Him is broken. God tenderly invites you to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true Children. But that belief, that faith does not come from you. He gives it to you. And in order for you to fully understand that, to fully grasp the depth of His mercy toward you, He sends His only-begotten Son to you to be your Brother, so He may teach us all what it means to call out, “Our Father who art in heaven”.
In a way, Ash Wednesday and Lent is really about restoration. It is about restoring our relationship to God by hearing from Him and receiving His gifts. We put ashes on our foreheads to point to the reality of death and how broken our relationship to God really is. But God is rich in mercy and love to you and all His fallen children. He restores you, washes off the ashes of death and makes you new in Him by His own Son’s death and resurrection.
You have a place at the Father’s Table, and you are now a part of the holy conversation of God. Repent of your sins, remember who you are in Christ Jesus, and receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Come to Him with boldness and confidence as dear children come to their dear Father. Come, speak with Him, listen to Him, and join in the holy conversation of heaven.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.