Summary: This is my 2008 sermon for our "Lenten Lunch" series. It focuses on spiritual discipline.
Each Friday night after work, Bubba would fire up his outdoor grill and cook up some big delicious steaks. Nothing wrong with that… but, you see… all of Bubba’s neighbors were Catholic. Since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on Friday. The delicious aroma from the grilled steaks was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest.
The Priest thought about going to talk to Bubba about not cooking steaks on Friday. He knew Bubba was a good Presbyterian… so he prepared himself with bible in hand and got ready to hit Bubba with Paul’s message “Do not eat the meat for the sake of your weaker brothers and sister.”
However, during the drive to Bubba’s house, the priest had a moment of pure inspiration… instead of asking him to be sympathetic to his Catholic brothers and sisters… the priest would simply convert him to Catholicism! Surprisingly… Bubba was open to the idea.
Well, after one long weekend of intense study and preparation… the priest deemed Bubba ready for his “true” baptism. The next Sunday during mass… Bubba was baptized as the priest firmly declared "You were born a Presbyterian, you were raised a Presbyterian, but now you are a Catholic." Bubba’s neighbors were greatly relieved, and looked forward to a Friday without the tempting aroma of grilled steaks wafting through the whole neighborhood.
Much to their dismay… that next Friday, Bubba came home from work… fired up the grill… and tossed on a couple of delicious and juicy steaks. Immediately the neighbors called the Priest, “Bubba is cheating! He’s eating meat on a Friday during Lent! You have to stop him!”
So the Priest jumped into his priestmobile and sped off to Bubba house. When he got there, he literally jumped out of his car… rosary and bible in hand… prepared to rebuke and scold the new found catholic. But, when he got to the backyard… he could only stand there in amazement… there stood Bubba, holding a small bottle of holy water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat and chanted: “You wuz born a cow, you wuz raised a cow, but now you is a catfish.”
It’s tough being good during Lent… isn’t it? By show of hands… how many of you gave something up for Lent. It’s tough. Especially if you do it right… and give up that one thing you love the most! Last year, my sister invited her kids to give up something for Lent. My little nephew who was about 4 at the time said to his mom… “I’m going to give up chocolate cake for Lent, because I don’t like chocolate cake very much.” By show of hands, how many of you gave up your fifth or sixth favorite thing because you couldn’t bear to give up that ONE thing you really can’t go without!
Well… I gotta tell you, my wife and I really dug in this year. We decided to give up ALL junk food. All candy, all pop, all donuts, all sweets (including chocolate)… pizza, burgers, fries, chips… basically… if it turns to junk in your body… I’m not allowed to have it.
It has been 14 long days my friends. Everywhere I go… temptation awaits. I drive by Casey’s and my brain says, “You want to eat a donut.” In this part of the sermon my brain is played by a Jedi Knight… so it says “You want to eat a donut.” No… I can’t do that… this is Lent… I’ve given it all up. So my willpower stands up defiantly and says, “These aren’t the treats you’re looking for.” And I keep driving.
I go to Confirmation class… and there are cookies. And my brain says, “Eat the cookie.” My brain has now turned into Cookie Monster. “EAT THE COOOOKIEEE.” This is tough, I love cookies… my hand actually touches the cookie… picks it up… and one of my confirmands says, “Hey… didn’t you give up sweets for Lent.” And I’m thinking, why did I tell them I gave up sweets for lent? I put the cookie down, and say “Thank you, for keeping me accountable.” But I want to eat the cookie!
It’s so tough. Every where I go my brain is like a savage beast with no relent. Eat the cookie. Eat the cookie. Eat… the… cookie. Cookieeeeeeee! My willpower even begins to give in with the rational side… well you know… you have been really good. You deserve a cookie. C’mon… one cookie isn’t going to hurt.
It gets to the point where my brain even tries to disguise what I’m tempted to eat. Like… I know for a fact… when I go downstairs today… there is going to be a table full of wonderful cake and treats waiting for me. And my brain is going to take advantage of this opportunity and say… “Hey Spencer… you know what’s in cake? Flour… flour is in cake. Flour is in bread and bread is healthy. You know what else in cake? Eggs. Eggs are good for you too. Toast and eggs… that’s all it is. Why, eating cake is kinda like eating a healthy breakfast. Eat the cake. And I think of Bubba, “You wuz born a cake. You wuz raised a cake. But now you is toast and eggs.”