An Ash Wednesday Message

Jessica Nipp Hacker

​We are happy to share this Ash Wednesday message from Bishop Jim M​auney of the Virginia Synod, ELCA: 

va synod for web.jpg

Matthew 6:16-18 - Concerning Fasting   

"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 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."

Okay, so on Ash Wednesday, join me in fasting for the children who are not seen, join me in fasting for one of the seemingly biggest secrets on earth: we can control outbreaks of malaria so children don't have to die because of it any longer.

Don't put oil on your head; put a check in the offering plate for the ELCA Malaria Campaign for the least of these that our Heavenly Father loves like we love our very own.

Don't wash your face; mark your face with the cross that speaks to giving your life away so that another who was in the grasp of death might have life.

In the last 8 days Lynda and I have added another $400 or another 40 nets. We passed giving 100 nets two years ago, but we keep gifts designated when we can for this campaign in the effort to bring one more nation, one more region, one more village to turn an epidemic into an ability to keep outbreaks manageable and hundreds of afflicted to several.

And while I seem to be contradicting the Sermon on the Mount's admonition for hiding my lamp of faith, it does seem to come close to fulfill the call to be salt and light for the children of this world.

On this Ash Wednesday, I will confess this to you, my countenance will not be dismal. My forehead will bear the ashes of my death, but my checks, I pray, will sustain life in the Name of our Lord.

I remember my Lutheran sister I met from India at the 2010 Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation. She shared with me that when the food ran out, they fasted with thanksgiving, until the food would return. Fasting is not just a religious spiritual practice, it also is a faithful response to a real circumstance. So may our gifts this day be the same as we remember children in need around the globe and especially in Africa - giving and praying until health returns to them.

- Bishop Jim Mauney, Virginia Synod, ELCA