The “no” list during the pandemic has included: no hugs, no school, no visits, no church, and no choir. For each of us, there’s the ongoing pandemic “no list” that feels like a global Lent and a prolonged slowing down of time itself in which we work harder and longer. So, after all the pandemic sacrifices, what does it mean to give up chocolate or coffee for Lent (my usual spiritual speed)? In my mind, giving up chocolate seems trivial. When I ask God in prayer what to do, all I hear back is: “Well, it’s a complex situation. Look, even ashes are on the ‘no list’.”
If God really wanted to poke holes in my current mind set, why not point out that many of the sacrifices were imposed upon me and did not stem from my desire to become more spiritually in-tune with Christ’s dance with the Devil in the Judean Wilderness. Plus, it’s been a sacrificial time for everyone, for the good of everyone.
So, with a long sigh (I literally just sighed), I am wondering if God’s grace will cover my complaining heart with forgiveness; and, if so, if it’s okay with God to count participation in last Sunday’s food drive at IPC and my abstinence from distributing Ashes as part of my Lenten sacrifice this year. In return (and I know I’m not allowed to bargain with God), I pray that I will gracefully accept the sacrifices-yet to be added to my “no list”- as Lenten gifts. After all, the Bible does say something along the lines of “give a little more and more will be given unto you.”
Onward into Lent,
Gareth Evans serves as the rector of St. Barnabas. He is an inspirational leader who brings significant pastoral experience, a depth of reverence in worship, and a relatable preaching style.