Patiently waiting in traffic I noticed this sandwich board on the curb next to a church on Ash Wednesday, “Ashes to go”. You have to give points to this innovative church for making it easier to observe the tradition of receiving ashes with this drive-thru ritual!
This friendly curbside invitation reminds us that we are now in the Lenten season bringing the message of “Atonement (at-one-ment) – rethink your lives”.
A little reflection is always a good thing. Maybe we do need to make some changes. So we give ourselves a fast once-over. “I’m a good person. I don’t lie, or cheat or steal. I don’t abuse my kids or cheat on my spouse. I’m honest on the golf course and always use receptacles for my candy wrappers. I even recycle! I’m not perfect but there are some things that I need to attend to, like losing about 10 pounds, exercise a bit more, volunteer a little more and watch my language when the golf ball misses the intended target.”
All true. We are pretty nice folks and we could do some fine- tuning that would make us ever nicer. But during this season of Lent the Lord is calling us to think bigger – bigger than just nice, bigger than just staying out of trouble.
God is urging us to ask ourselves two questions: First, what am I doing to justify the space I’m taking up, and the air I’m breathing? And second, are the people around me enriched each day because I’m here? Would their lives be noticeably poorer if I were gone?
So how do we make a difference? We begin by identifying and naming the tools that God has given us to work with. And then we ask quite simply, who needs what I have to give?
In answering those questions we’ll be amazed at what we discover: there are lots of people who need our gifts. There are lots of people for whom we can make a real difference every day.
God has entrusted each of us with special gifts and we are privileged to give thanks that we are partners in building the kingdom. If we bring the gifts we bear to those for whom they were intended, we will REALLY make a difference!