My life was influenced tremendously by my maternal grandfather. I have his name—James or Jimmy, and I like to think I have a portion of his gift for storytelling, too. He was a master storyteller. And, I believe his gift in telling stories came from a different place than most who we would recognize as master storytellers. He wasn’t necessarily creative, not like the great authors who hold our attention as we turn the pages at night before we go to bed. I think his stories just came from the way he lived. He ran away from home at 12 years old, running from an alcoholic and abusive father. He rough-necked in the oil patch in Texas until he got his GED and went to Oklahoma to play football for the Sooners (I try not to hold that against him, but it, admittedly, still bugs me!) After he finished school, he went back to the oil patch where he spent most of his professional career.
From the time we were little-little, he told my brother and me stories of his life that were always full of advice. One of those pieces of advice that I remember most vividly coming from my granddad was “do something, even if it’s wrong!” He was the proverbial “man of action” because his rough childhood and early adulthood demanded it. And, it served him! He was quite successful, especially given his earlier years.
I’ve held onto that advice. I’ve revisited it and used it during seasons of my life and professional career that demanded bolder steps. And, I also revisit it almost every year at Lent. I see Lent as a season that demands action. I see Lent as an opportunity to take my faith out of the church and smoosh it down into the other areas of my life that slowly become disintegrated through the rest of the year’s, weeks and months. Lent gives us homework—hence the composition book you received from us this past Sunday.
Of course I hope you’ll still keep coming to church during this 40-day and some Sundays season. But I hope you’ll take church or your faith or your spirituality back out of this place with you. I hope the composition book might be a tool that helps you smoosh faith back down into Monday and Wednesday or Saturday. I hope that you will see that God, while certainly present in church, is WAY more active in the world around us.
So, class, open your books to week one and get to that homework. And don’t come dragging in here on a Sunday trying to tell us that G-o-d ate your homework!