The Easter weekend will soon be with us, and humans find themselves in the midst of that special time called Lent. And “Lent” is one of those strange human names because it sounds as though you’ve given something to somebody with the expectation of getting it back at some point in the future. But it’s not only parrots that find Lent confusing as the following story shows….
An Irishman moved into a small village, and immediately went along to the local pub. He walked in and ordered three beers all at once. The bartender raised his eyebrows, but served the man as requested, and watched as the man sat quietly at a table on his own, drinking the beers one after another.
An hour later, the man ordered three more. And for the following few nights, this became the established pattern as the Irishman continued to order three pints at a time. Soon, most of the village were whispering about “the man who always ordered three pints”.
Finally, after a week had passed, the bartender broached the subject on behalf of the village. “I don’t mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three pints at a time?” “‘Tis odd, isn’t it?” replied the Irishman. “You see, I have two brothers. One emigrated to America and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”
The bartender and the rest of the village liked this answer and warmed to the man. But then, one day, the man came in and only ordered two beers. The bartender poured them with a heavy heart, and this was repeated later on in the evening and the following day. Before long, prayers were being said for the Irishman. Eventually, the bartender said to the man: “Folks around here including myself, want to offer their condolences to you for the death of one of your brothers; you know, the two beers instead of three. To which the Irishman replied: “Nobody’s died. I just thought I’d give up drinking for Lent.”
So the Irishman did, but didn’t really give up his drink for Lent. And around the world right now, many humans will be going without special treats like chocolate or cakes or a glass of wine in recognition of the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But you know, “giving up” doesn’t always mean going without. Because giving up can also mean “getting rid of.” Getting rid of those things which can so often separate us from God. Things like guilt and regret. Or addictions such as gambling or drug taking. Or unresolved conflict or anger. These things are much bigger than beer or chocolate or cakes, and if we can only manage to resolve them or expel them during this time of Lent, there will be much rejoicing in Heaven. And the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross will become all the more meaningful and relevant to our lives.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is….” (Romans 12:2a)