Holy Manna: February 24, 2023

Holy Manna: A Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Read: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

“Be careful not to do your deeds of righteousness before (others) to be seen by them …”

Our focus this year is on community.

I was about eight or nine and a group of us kids decided to “do a circus.” I don’t remember what inspired such a concept, but the half dozen of us spent about ten minutes preparing our acts (which seemed like more than enough time). When we were ready to do our circus on the lawn in front of the Thompson house, a crowd of parents, aunts, and cousins had assembled, as if by magic. We had only just discussed the circus and, VOILA – we had an audience! I remember nothing else about the event (I think I did some pratfalls, cartwheels, and possibly a tumble or two), but I remember we had an audience. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Thrilled to be seen, and scared I’d never be good enough.

Jesus invites us to take a minute or so, examine our lives, and ask the question: Who is your audience? He warns us to be careful. “What crowd are you playing to?” he asks. Bear in mind that crowds come and go; people have short memories, and we’re only as good as our last performance. But there is One who keeps watch, who never misses a show, who stands beside us both on stage and behind the scenes and in the privacy of our dressing rooms. That One says, “You are marvelous. You improve every day. I’m so proud of you. You make me smile.”

When we pray, give, or cut back, we do so as part of a sacred community, performing before God who claps, whistles, and yells, “In you I am well-pleased!”

Let us pray. God, you are with us. You never fail to hear our words or see our deeds. Thank you for being ever-present in our lives. Here at the start of Lent, help us live for you, the only audience that counts. Amen.
-Fr. Keith Axberg