“Giving Up Money for Lenten: A Spiritual Excercise”
Easter Break Fast
Some of us have been doing a money fast as part of our Lenten devotion this year. For part of Lent we tried not to spend any money that was not really necessary to spend. We gave up meals in restaurants, we gave up clothes shopping, we gave up window shopping, and we gave up credit cards. For some of us, these things that we usually spent money on every day…things that were almost addictions. Today Easter is the day we break the fast. (Pastor takes a sip of Starbucks!)
Life is not meant to be lived in Lent.
Lent is a time of mourning. Lent is a time of sorrow. Lent is a time of repentance. Lent is a time of self-sacrifice. Lent is a time of frank self-assessment.
Lent lasts for about 10 percent of the year. We are not meant to live in Lent. A little Lent is a good thing. Too much Lent isn't.
We fast during Lent but when Easter comes, we break the fast. Don't live in Lent.
Perhaps there are those who having a special calling to lives of poverty. Most of us don't. For most people, poverty is an injustice, not a calling.
Perhaps there are those called to lives of celibacy. Most of us aren't.
Perhaps there are those called to lives of solitude and withdrawal. But most of us are invited to lives of love and community and fellowship.
All of us will have some Lent in our lives, but don't get stuck in Lent. You are not created for Lent. You are created for Easter.
I love breakfast. I love breakfast. Actually I don't love the breakfast I eat Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday so much. I love Saturday breakfast.
Jane and I get up on Saturday mornings and we have a long discussion about where we will have breakfast today, getting hungrier and hungrier by the minute. Where will we have breakfast this Saturday morning?
Capital City Diner in Trinidad has the best home fires. The Tune Inn on Pennsylvania Avenue has the best Scrapple and the Saturday morning server there is from Philadelphia and he knows his scrapple. Ted's Bulletin on 8th Street has the best cheese grits.
The best of all is the Saints Paradise Cafeteria at Bishop Daddy Grace's House of Prayer for All People in Shaw. The only problem is that I can not eat there during the three month period before I am scheduled to have my cholesterol tested.
I love Saturday breakfast. We eat and read the papers and talk and eat and read the papers and talk. I love Saturday breakfasts.
I love holiday breakfasts…holiday breakfasts when the house is full. They don't happen as much any more. Jane will make a big meal later in the day but I will get up hours before everybody else in the morning. I will boil potatoes and slice them into home fries and bake them in the oven sprinkled with olive oil. I will fry thick slabs of bacon and smoked sausages and make big omelets with onions and peppers and cheese. And I will fry fakin' bacon and make scrambled tofu for the vegetarians. I will toast and butter a loaf of bread, and I will keep it all warm in the oven until people wake up. And as they make their way one-by-one to the kitchen in their pajamas, I will serve them big plates of breakfast one by one.
I love those breakfasts.
Of all the resurrection accounts my favorite one is the one about Jesus cooking breakfast for his disciples.
The disciples did not do well during the time of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion…at least not the men. The women stood by Jesus; the men ran away. They abandoned him. They denied him. They betrayed him.
After the resurrection, the men were confused. They were feeling guilty. They were feeling inadequate. They were feeling ashamed. Not without reason.
A group of the guys were sitting around and Peter said, "I am going fishing."
Before Jesus called him to become a disciple, Peter had been a fisherman. It was the way he made his living before Jesus. Then Jesus said to him "Follow me and I will make you fishers of people."
When Peter said, "I am going fishing," he was saying I am going back to my old life. I am going back to what I know how to do. I am going back to what I am good for. I thought I was a big-time disciple but it turned out I didn't have the stuff when Jesus really needed me. I am giving up my hopes and dreams. I am going back to all I am good for. I am going fishing.
And the rest of the guys who were with Peter said to him, "We will go with you." We'll go back to our old lives, too. We'll give up our hopes and dreams. We'll go with you.
They fished all night.
And when the night was over, in the morning, there was Jesus on the shore with a charcoal fire making breakfast. The resurrected Jesus is on the shore making breakfast.
There was the resurrected Christ making breakfast, and Christ says to them; "Come and have breakfast."
That's all. "Come and have breakfast."
I don't believe this was the first time Jesus made his disciples breakfast. The reason I don't believe it is because if you read the resurrection accounts, the disciples never recognize the resurrected Jesus because of the way he looks physically. However the resurrected Christ appeared he was not recognizable physically. They could not tell it was him because of the way he looked.
Mary Magdalene didn't recognize him, Peter didn't recognize him, and Thomas didn't recognize him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him. The disciples who were fishing did not recognize him physically.
They knew it was him not because he looked like the Jesus they had known before the crucifixion, but because of what he does. Mary knows it is him not when she sees him but when he lovingly calls her by name…just the way he lovingly called her by name when he freed her from the demons inside her years before. On the road to Emmaus, the disciples do not recognize him as he walks with them. They know it is him when he teaches them just the way he taught them in their lives together before the crucifixion and their hearts burn within them.
Here the disciples recognize him because of the way he looks but because he make them breakfast. So I do not think it was the first time Jesus made them breakfast. The resurrected Jesus does the same things Jesus did before his crucifixion. This is how the disciples know it is him. Because he does what Jesus always did.
We know Jesus was not a good sleeper…except maybe when he was on a boat. Then he could sleep through a storm. But we know that he was often up during the night thinking and praying. So I suspect Jesus was often up before the disciples and that he often made them breakfast.
They knew it was him not because of his appearance but because he made them breakfast.
And he says to them what he must have said so many mornings during the years of his ministry with the disciples: "Come and have breakfast." Eat. Eat.
I know what it means when our house is full and I am cooking and serving breakfast. It is a way of me trying to say to those closest to me: I love you and I want you to be happy. No matter what's gone wrong since last year, no matter the mistakes you've made, no matter the disappointments along the way, no matter. Nothing else matters. I love you and I want you to be happy. Eat some more fakin' bacon. Have some more scrambled tofu. I love you and want you to be happy.
The disciples who had failed Jesus were still living in Lent. They were still living in their guilt. They were still living in their sorrow. They were still living in their remorse. They were still living in their own reproach and self-criticism.
Then the resurrected Jesus makes them breakfast. He says to them, "Come, have breakfast."
He tells them it is time to break the fast. It is time to let go of Lent. It is time for Easter in your life. Time to forgive yourself. Time to stop punishing yourself. Time for peace. Time for joy. Time for love. Come, have breakfast.
See, we –you and I—will not recognize the resurrected Jesus by the way he looks. If the disciples couldn't, we won't be able to either.
We will recognize the resurrected Christ by what he does. He moves us from Lent to Easter. He moves us from shame to joy. He moves us from guilt to forgiveness. He moves us from self-condemnation to love.
Don't get stuck in Lent. Break the fast. Come to Easter breakfast. Eat. Eat.
I'd like to pray for you if you would bow your head. Some of us here are still living in Lent. We have things in our lives we can not let God forgive us for. We have things we cannot forgive ourselves for.
Some of us have had failed marriages and relationships and we can not forgive ourselves for having failed. Some of us have not been as successful in the way the world measures success as we wanted and we can not move past it. Some of us are alienated from family. Some of us have children who are in trouble and we blame ourselves. Some of us can not accept our sexuality. Some of us are angry about our bodies and we can not live in peace in our own bodies. Some of us punish ourselves and we don't know why. Some of us are afraid to hope for too much.
The resurrected Jesus does not want us stuck in Lent. Think about where you in your life have been stuck in Lent too long. It may be guilt. It may be shame. It may be perfectionism. It may be an addiction. It may be the voices of critical parents that you can still hear in your head. It may be cynicism. It may be despair. It may be a lack of self-confidence.
I want to say something to the young adults in the congregation. I stayed in Lent too long. You can be concerned about injustice in the world, you can be upset about war, you can be worried about the way we are harming the earth, but you do not need to get stuck in Lent. The movement of the Holy Spirit in human history is a revolution that let's you dance, wants you to dance. Don't get stuck in Lent.
If you have a place in your life where you are stuck in Lent, you can break your fast right now. While I am talking you can pray a prayer for forgiveness…just needs to be a few words. You can pray a prayer for release from your guilt, from your shame, from your disappointment, from your addiction, from your despair. Whatever it is for you.
Then every time the guilt or shame tries to claim your spirit again, just say "It is Easter. It is Easter every day."
And all of us can be Easter people. Proclaiming in everything we do to the world around us that guilt is forgiven, shame is gone, and there is no condemnation.
Please say these words out loud with me: Lent is over. Easter is here. I break the fast. I accept Jesus' love. I want to love like Jesus. I choose joy. Amen.