Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 1

Letting Go by Ivy Lamb

As I read today’s verses, I think of all the ways we run away from our own vulnerability. We posture and perform for others to gain their good opinion, and we hoard our resources to protect ourselves from uncertainty. Often, it feels easier to cling to the illusion of security than to admit how fragile our lives actually are.

But this scripture asks a different question: Are you willing to let go? Are you willing to let go of your self-righteousness? Your reputation? Your wealth? Your security? If you hold on, you have already received your reward. What if letting go is a form of freedom?

Ash Wednesday invites us to stop and dwell on our mortality. Today, we mark our impermanence on our bodies as a reminder that we are dust and to dust we shall return.  It’s a somber service, but it can also wake us up to what matters. In this season of Lent, I pray that we learn to let go. I pray that we live fully and generously, not despite our impermanence, but because of it.

Devotional Scripture Text: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

‘Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

‘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. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and God who sees in secret will reward you.

‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to God in secret; and God who sees in secret will reward you.

‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by God who is in secret; and God who sees in secret will reward you.

‘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 where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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