14 February 2018 – Ash Wednesday

posted in: Sermons | 0

Rev’d Jonathan Gale

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

There is a major challenge which we all face in life: that is, being authentic.

If the phenomenon of social media has taught us one thing it is that it is not the medium for being honest. You can’t be honest when you are at a remove from people. You have to have genuine face to face relationship with them.

That’s why the idea of online church is one of the most ridiculous I’ve come across.  It flies in the face of everything Jesus is trying to achieve in and through us. It enables people to be lazy, unaccountable to one another and to hide from reality. Mostly it encourages people, like puppet-masters – to manipulate what they consider to be God from behind a keyboard.

We have to ask ourselves: what do we treasure? I mean, what is it that is of most importance to us: our self-preservation or our genuine walking in Jesus’ footsteps with all the vulnerability that entails.

The ashes upon the forehead on Ash Wednesday are meant to remind us of our own mortality. Mortality is the ultimate form of vulnerability: being open to the influence of both Christ and those with us on the journey in accompanying Christ.

There is an old chorus which repeats the line, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Discipleship is about following Jesus. And following him takes us into some places that expose our weakness, that make us feel uncertain. That is authenticity.

It goes back to the question: where is our treasure? Do we treasure our own security and comfort or are we prepared to put Jesus first and follow him through thick and thin because we treasure above all things, the Lord who died, rose and lives for our salvation?

The Prayer Book, towards the end of the p.476 version of the Eucharistic Liturgy says, “Called to follow Christ, help us to reconcile and unite. Called to suffer, give us hope in our calling.”

This Lent our Theme is Were you There? It is a series about walking with Jesus.

We will aim to exercise the ancient Hebrew custom of stepping back into the experiences of our ancestors as though we really are there. The Old Testament Israelites did this every time the Passover was observed.

You will recall that, in the words of an old version of  Luke 9: 51, And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face like a flint to go to Jerusalem.

Jesus, aware that only trouble awaited him in the capital, resolutely set out in obedience to the Father’s will and headed for Jerusalem.

We will be walking with Jesus and asking


  • “Were You There . . . in the Shouting Crowd?” as they shouted down the Roman Governor and mocked Jesus
  • “Were You There . . . as a Spectator?” as they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Jesus
  • “Were You There . . . as a Confessor?” as the two criminals were who were crucified alongside him
  • “Were You There . . . as a Sympathizer?” as were those who followed him to his death
  • “Were You There . . . as His Family?” as those who stuck by him to the end
  • “Were You There . . . as a Demonstrator?” – on Palm Sunday
  • “Were You There . . . When He Was Crucified? – on Good Friday
  • “Were You There . . . When He Arose?” – on Easter Day


There is much God can teach us as we follow Jesus through Lent, but the real question is this:

What is it I treasure? What are my priorities? Which of them are an unhelpful burden to which I should apply the cross of Christ if I am to be an authentic disciple?

May God grant us courage and wisdom as we enter Lent.