Readings for the day (Ash Wednesday – Wednesday, March 1, 2017:
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
What makes waking up in the morning so great (request responses)? Yes all of those are wonderful reasons for waking up in the morning, but what about the whole room being filled with the wonderful smell of coffee brewing? And then to sit, holding that warm cup of coffee in your hand as you take those first couple sips of that delicious hot beverage. For all of you coffee drinkers out there you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t drink coffee, now you know what you are missing.
Drinking any hot beverage for that matter has a way of energizing us for the day. The caffeine might play a part in that, but I think there’s something about sipping on a hot beverage in the morning to warm you up. Kind of like having to warm your car up in the morning. Things just run better after being warmed up.
After a while though, I get distracted by other things, but then I go grab my mug, which seems to have gotten a little lighter, I take a sip of the beverage…YUCK! That delicious, savory beverage that I was enjoying is now disgusting. It’s become lukewarm! Coffee, tea, vegetables, pizza, bath water – none of these are enjoyable when they are lukewarm. We desire them to be hot. In fact that’s how they were meant to be enjoyed – hot.
Now our beverages and food are not the only things that get lukewarm. Over time we can become lukewarm in our relationships with our spouse, with our children, with our friends. Oh it starts out as the usual excuse, we’re really busy, and it’s so hard to find time to get together. And then that makes way for fewer conversations. We become relaxed, comfortable with how things are, but unfortunately when we become complacent and content, we have become lukewarm. Not hot, energized, and excited, but relaxed and content which this leads to our relationships breaking down. And what is lukewarm eventually becomes cold.
We become lukewarm in our daily activities too. When we just don’t care as much about our work, not putting forth a good effort. Or in school when we don’t put in as much effort into our studies as we could. And even in our extra-curricular activities and hobbies. When we don’t put in a very good effort, that’s a good sign that we have become lukewarm.
This same thing is true in our spiritual lives. When we are energized, when we are excited about our walk with God, we are on fire. We’re praying, taking time for devotions, putting our trust in God to guide and lead through the Holy Spirit, we joyfully come worshiping our God who formed us in His image, we cheerfully give of our time, our talents, and our treasures to God all for the purpose of growing His kingdom. But when we sit ideal for a while, like the coffee cup on my desk that I forgot about, we become lukewarm. And that’s when prayer and devotions get skipped, we start putting our trust in ourselves and our checking account, attending worship becomes a chore, and giving becomes another bill to pay. Just like with our relationships with each other and our daily activities, what is lukewarm eventually becomes cold, including our relationship with God.
But you know what’s wonderful about lukewarm coffee? You can add more hot coffee to the cup to warm it back up, and it doesn’t take a lot of hot coffee to do that. The same is true in our spiritual lives, in our relationships, and in our daily lives. Today begins the season of Lent, 40 days where we focus on who we are as sinners and God’s call for us to repent, setting aside those things that hinder us, making us lukewarm, and turning back to God, warming ourselves back up. So in the next 40 days, what is something that you would like to work on, maybe it is a relationship, maybe it is spending more time in prayer or studying your Bible, maybe it is living more by faith, trusting that God will be with you, maybe it is opening yourself up more to helping grow God’s kingdom through your own time, talents and treasures.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He tells His disciples that to avoid being lukewarm, good spiritual practices include prayer, fasting, and giving. Let’s spend the next 40 days warming ourselves up. Because as Paul tells the Corinthians we do not want to accept the grace of God in vain. Meaning we should not become relaxed and comfortable all because we know that God has already saved us through the waters of baptism. Just because you have been claimed by God, welcomed into His family, and given the promise of eternal life and forgiveness of all your sins, does not mean that God enjoys you as lukewarm coffee. He desires that you take this life that He has graciously given to you and share this Good News of God’s saving grace with others. And we do so, as Paul did, by being patient, kind, offering genuine love, being truthful in what we say, and above all, trusting in the power of God.
You all are Christ’s ambassadors, whether you’re 12 or 50 or 90. And as Christ’s ambassador you are a representative of not only your respective congregation, but your two sister congregations as well. You represent Circle of Faith Parish. You represent the Body of Christ. You represent Christ himself. You are His ambassador, called to bring you’re A-game, not your lukewarm coffee.
Paul says that now is the acceptable time…now is the day of salvation. There is no greater time than these 40 days of Lent to turn away from our lukewarm tendencies. For there will come a day when God will no longer desire confession or repentance on account of our sins. For at that acceptable time, when the words that we heard earlier will come true (Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return), then we will enjoy the abundant blessings from God beyond any can ever imagine. That is when you, the ambassador, will be called home, the work will be completed and there will be rest for His faithful servants.
Until that day, let’s warm our coffees up, and bring our A-game. Amen.
© 2017 Anthony Christoffels. All rights reserved.