Armed Forces and Federal Ministries

2019 Ash Wednesday Devotion

March 6, 2019
Armed Forces and Federal Ministries

An Attitude of Gratitude

By: The Right Reverend Carl Walter Wright

My dear Chaplain Colleagues:

As we enter the sacred Season of Lent 2019, please allow me a few very personal words. I come to this time with an attitude of gratitude, as the late Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller would say. This message was inspired by the literally hundreds of sympathy messages I received from you at the death of my Mother, Eva Wright last Christmas. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Time passes quickly. (Tempus Fugit.) I feel like I barely made it through Christmastide, when lo and behold it’s almost Ash Wednesday. Then I realize there are only a couple of months between December and Lent, and barely another month or so till Easter.

Life is short. Even if we live in our 80s, as Mama did, that’s a very short time when compared to eternity. As the Good Book says, “man, born of woman, has but a few days (Job 14).”

Because life is short we need to make everyday count for the Kingdom of God. While Lent is set aside as roughly 40-day exercise of penitence, self-denial, and renewal; I have another take on that. Perhaps this year, rather than focusing on our sin [which we should be doing all the time], why not reflect on our prosperity. Yes, our prosperity!

Here’s what I mean. As a career military person who spent 30-plus years enlisted and officer, Reserve, and Active, line and chaplain, I came to understand how materially blest we Americans are. No country I’ve lived in, including the European ones, has a standard of living quite as high as ours. Or, while the average citizen in this world is a farmer, the average American is middle-class. The longer I the more grateful I am for God’s blessings; and the more convinced I am that the original sin is not Pride, it is Ingratitude!

I suggest it would be spiritually profitable to reflect on our blessings and ask God to show us how better to use them to His glory. How about asking the Saviour to show us daily how to share our blessings? We can go on a diet or join a gym or make sacrifices anytime. But, how about carving out 40-days of praise? 40-days to take a hard look in the mirror, count our blessings, then offer them up to the God Who gave them to us in the first place…

I suggest that this year when you are shmeared with palm ashes and reminded of the brevity of this earthly life, give thanks and praise to God that it is as well as it is, and vow to be a more grateful follower of Christ. That would be a novel but beneficial Lenten discipline!

Jesus said, “Not everyone who cries, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will be able to enter into the Kingdom; only those who do the will of my Father Who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).”

This comes with my heartfelt thanks.
Bishop Carl

Gerardo Mazariegos

Administrative Assistant to the Bishop for Armed Forces and Federal Ministries