Ash Wednesday

SERMON TEXT:  Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past, God spoke to our forefathers by the prophets at many times and in many ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of the divine nature. He sustains all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  2 Samuel 12:1-13

So the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came and told him this: There were two men in a city. One was rich and one poor. The rich man had a large number of flocks and herds. The poor man did not own anything except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He raised it so that it grew up together with him and his children. It ate from his food and drank from his cup. It slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. When a traveler came to the rich man, the rich man was unwilling to take an animal from his flock or from his herd to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. So he took the lamb from the poor man and prepared it for the man who had come to him. David’s anger flared up against that man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this is as good as dead. In place of that lamb, he will restore four lambs, because he did this and had no pity.” Nathan told David, “You are the man. This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says.” I anointed you king over Israel. I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave the house of your master to you, and I gave the wives of your master into your embrace. I gave you the house of Israel and the house of Judah. If this was too little, I would have added even more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in his eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword. You have taken his wife as your own wife. You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. So now the sword will not depart from your house forever, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. This is what the LORD says. Look! I am raising up disaster against you from your own house. Right in front of your eyes I will take your wives and give them to your neighbor, and he will lie down with your wives in the sight of the sun. Because you acted in secret, I will do this in front of all Israel in broad daylight. David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan said to David, “The LORD himself has put away your sin. You will not die.

SECOND LESSON:  Acts 5:1–11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. With his wife’s knowledge, he kept back part of the proceeds for himself. Then he brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? Was it not yours before it was sold? And after it was sold, was not the money at your disposal? How could you plan such a thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. Great fear gripped everyone who heard about it. The young men got up and wrapped up his body. Then they carried him out and buried him. About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this how much you got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “How could you two agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who buried your husband are standing at the door, and they will carry you out too!” Instantly she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in, they found her dead. Then they carried her outside and buried her beside her husband. Great fear gripped the whole church and all who heard about these things.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Psalms 103:8

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

GOSPEL: Luke 18:9-14

Jesus told this parable to certain people who trusted in themselves (that they were righteous) and looked down on others: “Two men went up to the temple courts to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of all my income.’ “However the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even lift his eyes up to heaven, but was beating his chest and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went home justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”