Bread – Preparation

March 5, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, March 5, 2014 (Ash Wednesday), designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Amos 5:6-15; Heb. 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14; Psalms 32,95,102,130,143

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In order to eat, we must prepare the meal. In order to build a house, we must prepare the plans and the materials. In order to obtain a college degree, we must prepare our foundations and prepare a course of study which we will follow. In order to run a race, we must prepare by study and practice.

In a sense, all of our readings today are about preparation to run the race of life, to run the race of salvation, to run the race of glory, to run the race of holiness.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the period of Lent, which looks forward to Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

A favorite phrase of modern management is “SWOT.” It is an acronym for how to plan, beginning with an analysis of “Strengths,” “Weaknesses,” “Opportunities” and “Threats.” The idea is that before good planning can take place for a good outcome, a major part of preparation is understanding where you are.

Let us apply a spiritual SWOT analysis to ourselves as we begin our preparation.

First, we begin with Scripture. In Amos, we are told that God knows “how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins…” Amos 5:12. Amos also tells us to “Seek the Lord and live…” Amos 5:6. Hebrews tells us we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” and that, therefore, we need to lay aside every weight and sin and “run with endurance the race that is set before us….It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you like sons.” Heb. 12:1,7. In Luke, Jesus reminds us that the haughty Pharisee, believing he is perfect, will be humbled and the bad, bad person who understands the depth of his sin and cries to God for mercy will be exalted. Lk. 18:9-14

So, from Scripture and applying our SWOT analysis, we know that our strengths are none, our weaknesses are transgressions and sin, our opportunities rest in God’s mercy shown to us in Christ’s death on the cross, and our threats are ourselves.

This is why we have Ash Wednesday. It is a time for preparation. It is a time for clear evaluation of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is a time for truth. It is a time for reality. It is a time for discipline. And it is a time for us to begin to realize that God has in fact been merciful in delivering us from our weaknesses and the threats against us into our opportunity for eternal life.

The only thing we need to worry about in our preparation is that we will mis-evaluate our strengths by thinking that we have some.

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© 2014 GBF

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