What a strange Lent this has been for us Christians

Posted 4/12/20

By Reverend Elizabeth L. Nelson Special to the Caloosa Belle

All those things we treasure—prayer groups, Lenten studies, Stations of the Cross, the traditions of Palm Sunday, the …

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What a strange Lent this has been for us Christians

Posted

By Reverend Elizabeth L. Nelson
Special to the Caloosa Belle


All those things we treasure—prayer groups, Lenten studies, Stations of the Cross, the traditions of Palm Sunday, the glorious triumph of Easter complete with the fragrant smell of lilies filling the sanctuary—all of it has been taken away from us because of the Corona Virus. We have been forced into an everyday life of constant sacrifice, albeit not because we are remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We have no choice in the matter. Sacrifice has become the “new normal.”

These thoughts took me back to fourth grade—Holy Ghost Catholic School. I remember a Lenten poster of an enormous crown of thorns hanging on the chalk board. It was terrible to look at, but designed to make a point: Jesus wore this crown, experienced this much pain, because He loves us. And there was a task attached to this poster. Sister had a pad of rosebud stickers on her desk that came with a challenge: “If you go to Mass in the morning before you come to school, you can take one of these rose buds and stick it over one of the thorns in Jesus’ crown.” Well, that’s easy enough, I thought. I walked to school anyway and the church was right next door. An easy challenge…until it wasn’t. The first time I missed Mass, I sat there and watched as other kids put a rose bud on a thorn and I cried silently. I had disappointed Jesus, I thought, or worse yet, He might stop loving me.

Fast forward almost forty years. I had become an Episcopalian with a call to the priesthood, and I actually found myself at a function with the principal of that very grammar school! Awkward! I began to feel the same guilt I had felt as a child. She’s going to condemn me, I thought. As we talked I found myself saying that I didn’t know that God loved me until I was twenty-one years old. I noticed a tear in her eye, and she said, “We didn’t teach you that, did we?” That little, profound statement said it all.

God is love. What God has given us, what God has done for us, is all out of love. And He doesn’t give us rules and regulations to frighten us into submission. He doesn’t insist on any particular form of prayer and worship. He just wants us to return to Him and to each other what He’s given us…pure, unselfish, love! Look it up in 1 Corinthians 13. There is no greater love than this. It was never about covering thorns with stickers or following rules out of fear. It’s always been about love. And all those things you’ve had to sacrifice because of the virus? You now have more time for prayer, for talking with the One who has you and all the world in His loving arms. This current crisis will have an end. As for God…He is eternal, and His love is never-ending.

The Rev. Elizabeth L. Nelson is the pastor of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 1098 Collingsworth Pkwy, LaBelle

easter, featured, lent

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