By The Very Rev. Sherry Crompton
February 6, 2008 (Ash Wednesday)
Read: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Tonight we are reminded that we are all sinners…that we are all in need of forgiveness. We are also reminded that we are God’s property. God is the ultimate forgiver. God is the healer who begins to change us from the inside when the sick soul cries out for help. God is the one who creates a clean heart.
The Gospel doesn’t guarantee our physical well-being, or slow down the aging process, but it does something much more. Our confessions and God’s forgiveness begin the healing process in our soul. To name our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness enables us to ease our load and walk a little lighter. Ashes in the form of the cross remind us that we are God’s property. Ashes in the form of the cross…there is a pastor who says he always preaches Good Friday and preaching Good Friday, the Cross, is important on Ash Wednesday.
Lee had been in the Korean War, and he was a CIA agent. He and a group of CIA agents had been flown up into North Korea, and had been dropped there for a landing. They went secretly into North Korea, had blown up some ammunition dumps, made a raid on a secret installation and after that, they were coming back to their point of pick up. They were going to rendezvous and be flown back to their ship. On the way back, Lee made a mistake and he got separated from the other CIA agents. He made a mistake; he was clear about it. It was his dumb fault. Lee got caught in this sniper fire. He jumped behind a rock and there were a group of enemy soldiers up above him, shooting at him below as he was hiding behind a large rock. The bullets were pecking against this rock and making the rock smaller. Every time that a flick of the rock would hit him in the back, Lee thought that he was dead. He would roll over in panic, thinking that he had been shot in the back. It was a petrifying experience for him. His mouth was dry, white mouthed, dehydrated. Suddenly, his fellow agents came back to rescue him. It was like the cavalry had come in the old west movies. The cavalry had come back to save him, to cover up his mistake. But…six of his fellow agents, his good friends, were then killed…because of the mistake that he had made. As he told this story, he said, “Yes. I have carried this guilt with me for a long time now, and Good Friday will always been the most important day for me because Good Friday was that day that God came down to die for us, to pay for the enormous mistakes that we have made. I will always preach a Good Friday sermon because every sermon for me is about the cross. That God came to die for us in our mess. I believe that.
Tonight we are reminded that we are all sinners…that we are all in need of forgiveness. We are also reminded that we are God’s property. God is the ultimate forgiver. God is the healer who begins to change us from the inside when the sick soul cries out for help. God is the one who creates a clean heart. And the ashes in a form of a cross remind us that we are God’s property. Amen.
The text of this sermon is the property of the author and may not be duplicated or used without permission.