The Rev. Melanie McCarley
Welcome. The children are invited to come and have a seat with me.
As you can see, we’ve begun a new season at church. Lent! There are lots of symbols we associate with this holy season. Can you name some of them?
(the color purple, crown of thorns, palm branches, a bag of silver coins to symbolize Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, nails)
And, of course, there are differences in our service. There’s a word we put away until Easter. We don’t sing the Gloria, and use the Kyrie “Lord have mercy” as our song of praise.
But here’s a symbol that perhaps you haven’t heard of. An empty bowl. Yep, an empty bowl is a wonderful symbol of Lent.
I’ve brought a bowl with me today—but this bowl is not empty. It is filled with stuff—LOTS of stuff. In fact, there’s so much stuff in this bowl that I’m not certain I can get anything else inside. Life, for many of us, is a lot like a bowl. We have only so much time in one day that in order to fit something else in means we need to take something away.
Sometimes, it’s only by taking something away, we learn something important. For example, we might grow to understand how important that thing we’ve taken out is to us—or, maybe we learn that whatever we took away wasn’t really all that important at all.
Life is filled with so many things. It can be filled with things we like, and sometimes, things we don’t like all that much, but take up a lot of space in our lives. A Lenten tradition is to give something up/or to take something on for the season of Lent. In this way, we share in a very small way, in the suffering of Jesus, so that we might arrive at Easter renewed and grateful for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Would you help me empty this bowl?
• TV remote control: If I gave up a show, or two, maybe I’d learn to draw or paint instead.
• iphone: If I gave up the time I spend on social media—maybe I’d read my Bible, spend time praying, delve into a classic novel or study a subject that fascinates me. Or, with all that free time, maybe I’d volunteer to help at the Food Pantry
• Dunkin Donuts Mug: If I gave up my morning Coffee, maybe I’d donate that money to help someone in need.
• Hand-held computer game: If I gave up video or computer games, maybe I’d write a play—and get some of my friends to act in it with me.
• If I gave up whining and complaining for Lent, maybe I’d make a list of blessings—things for which I am grateful.
• If I gave up chocolate/sweets or junk food, and substituted healthy things, maybe I’d have more energy and feel better?
The bowl is now empty. In some ways an empty bowl is like a prayer waiting to be answered. It’s an emptiness that’s hopeful—it’s waiting to be filled.
We are to become like empty bowls for Lent. We don’t have to give everything up—but give up something. Empty out a little space, so that God can help us to fill it with something new.
Lent is a time of being emptied—but not simply so that we might be hungry or bored—but so that we might be filled. Filled with the goodness of God.