treasure & ash

To my mind, Ash Wednesday is a close third to Easter and Christmas among the liturgies of the Christian Year. Without a regular call to repentance and an annual profession of our corporate sins, our religious life is missing something profound.

Christian devotion is incomplete without the annual recitation of the Litany of Penitence that we will pray together this Ash Wednesday. In it we confess many things, including:

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people;

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comfort;

Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us.

The Book of Common Prayer, p. 268

There is a common thread that runs silently through these three confessions: money.

I’ve heard it said that money can be constructive, instructive or destructive. These three confessions remind us of how money’s power over us can indeed be quite destructive, doing damage to our souls and our world.

But we can turn that around. We can seek to transform our relationship with money into something instructive, constructive, and even holy. It takes courage, and a willingness to speak openly and forthrightly about it.

My Lenten discipline will be to write weekly on the St. Andrew’s parish blog about our relationship with money. This is the perfect season to look seriously at how money holds power over us and keeps us in a “Lenten” place in times of prosperity and need alike.  I invite you to follow these weekly reflections here, and I welcome any conversation that might emerge.

This is not, by the way, an ask. We are now at the  midyear point between fall stewardship ingatherings, so it’s an ideal time to check in on your relationship with money without the pressure to fund a ministry or even turn in a pledge card.

The work of Lent is restoration, and a return to loving God with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. Please join me in this journey towards wholeheartedness, a path that begins with ash on our foreheads and will bring us to the cross with Jesus. We will find that money can be a curious companion along the way. But by looking at it with courage, we can also find our way to the empty tomb.




About bernardowens

I'm an Episcopal priest in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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