Ash Wednesday, Lent, My Girl

"Your Father Who is In Secret"

At the Ash Wednesday service last night, LP read the gospel. I made an adjustment to the verses we read, taking off the end and adding in the Lord’s Prayer. For years the description of the hypocrites praying on the street corners has taken me back to #1 Son as an 8th-grader, part of the ensemble of youth from Large Church performing in “Godspell.” He was the hypocrite bonked on the head by Jesus, falling to the stage like a rag doll.

But I may have a new memory now, of my beautiful girl, luminous actually, reading the gospel in a softly lit sanctuary, a handmade purple candle flickering on the worship center, her clear voice speaking the words with a sweet and gentle authority:

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 your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:17-18, NRSV)

It felt like she was letting me in on something important to know, that there is a place to connect no one else can see. And I wonder if it felt that way to the people gathered around Jesus, hearing his voice say those words for the first time.Did they feel relieved to know that there was more to faith than outward practice? Did they feel relieved to hear that what really mattered was the inward seeking of God’s presence?

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