Last Saturday I took my two granddaughters to see “Gnomeo and Juliet” an animated re-telling of the Shakespeare classic (Shakespeare’s lead was named Romeo, but you get the idea). Anyway it’s a cute movie about star-crossed lovers that are actually garden gnomes featuring Elton John music. I enjoyed it as much as the girls plus there was a bit of a morality tale included – which is never a bad idea, especially in a kid’s movie.
What does this have to do with Lenten sacrifice? Let me explain. At the end of the movie Anna (the almost three-year old) asked, “Pawpaw, can we clap now?” My response, “Of course we can!” So the three of us sat there, while watching the closing credits, clapping and cheering. I must admit that we received some stares and some looks of bemusement by our fellow theater goers but I didn’t care because my girls were so delighted.
And there you have it. I’ve decided to ‘give up’ public decorum for Lent. If I feel like clapping and cheering for a movie that my granddaughters LOVED – I will. I am ‘giving up’ my social embarrassment or my need for conformity. Now some of you, that know me, are probably wondering when exactly have I ever held back or been worried about peer pressure or social norms? But the truth is that too often I have let courtesy or political correctness dictate my actions. I have sacrificed compassion for good manners. I have failed to offer or accept forgiveness because of embarrassment or awkwardness. And I have denied Christ publicly by not always behaving in a Christian manner.
But I have some great examples of how to live my faith life. My son-in-law Travis ALWAYS says grace before meals – even in restaurants – even in fast food joints! He has made me feel comfortable with doing likewise. When we begin by making the ‘Sign of the Cross’ sometimes heads turn but it reminds me how grateful I am to have such a faith-filled son-in-law who is setting an amazing example for my grandkids. My co-workers Kim, Rosemary, Sherry, and Michael ALWAYS bring Christ into our workplace. Their quiet example of love and devotion to God is model for all Christians. And I am honored to be in their presence. My wife, Deb is ALWAYS showing me how to live a Christ-like life. She will drop whatever she’s doing to help a friend or a stranger. She will hold your hand and cry with you or share a belly-laugh; if that’s what you need. And she’s never afraid to show public outrage at injustice or public displays of affection regardless of who may be watching. She loves completely – I wish that I had her compassion.
So this Lenten season I will be pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I will pray in public and try to love more openly and praise God in my word and in my deed. I may even hug some people (so beware).
And of course Anna, “We can clap now!”