The following manuscript is adapted from last night’s Ash Wednesday sermon. For the complete sermon, listen to the audio file below.
Even if you didn’t watch the Academy Awards, you likely heard about the terrible mix-up that occurred last Sunday night when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty—otherwise known as “Bonnie and Clyde”—announced the year’s Best Picture Oscar. They announced the wrong movie: They said that La La Land won best picture, when in reality the movie Moonlight won the award.
Whoops! The producers of La La Land were nearly finished with their acceptance speeches before they found out what happened. My son Townshend was watching the show with me, and he said, “You know who the happiest man in America is right now? Steve Harvey!” And I’m sure he was right. In 2015, Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe Pageant, but the Academy Awards are a much bigger deal than Miss Universe.
But… It was almost worth the mix-up in order to see how at least one of the producers of La La Land responded. And for that reason, Jordan Horowitz is a hero to me. Shortly after giving his acceptance speech—while he was holding the Oscar in his hand—he went to the microphone and said, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture. This is not a joke.” And then, as the producers of Moonlight were taking the stage, he said, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.” And he handed over his trophy. And to his great credit, he didn’t even seem disappointed. He seemed perfectly O.K. with it.
And I thought, “This is a fitting symbol for this season of Lent, which begins today.” Lent is about learning to give trophies that don’t belong to us to their rightful owner. Lent is about learning to step away from the spotlight that’s shining on us so that it can shine on the One who deserves the spotlight. Lent is about learning to be O.K. with the idea that we’re not entitled to a single iota of glory for ourselves; rather, the glory belongs entirely to God alone.
Lent is about learning to say with John the Baptist, “[Christ] must become greater; I must become less.” Read the rest of this entry »