Sermon Text: I'm Kidding, But I'm Not Kidding
A guy goes to his doctor because he knows something is wrong. The doctor does some tests. The doctor meets with the patient.
“I’ve got some very bad news,” the doctor says. “You are dying, and you don’t have much time left.” “Oh, no!” says the patient. “How long do I have to live?” “Ten,” says the doctor.
The patient panics and says, “Ten? Ten what? Months? Weeks? Days?” The doctor calmly says, “Nine...eight...seven...”
Okay, that’s a joke version of the blessing I give you at the end of church. “Life is short, and we don’t have too much time to gladden the hearts of those with whom we journey along the way, so let us be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”
We’re in the season of Lent. I have been saying that Lent is overrated and it should never overshadow Easter and the joy of the resurrection. Every Sunday is Easter, a celebration of the resurrection.
But remember the words of Ash Wednesday as the ashes were rubbed on our foreheads: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Lent is overrated, but it does have a good message. We are mortal. We will not live forever on earth. We are dust.
And so we should meditate on what is truly important, what really makes a difference, what is not temporary but enduring.
I’ve got another joke for you.
An old man was on his deathbed. Around him were his wife, his three adult children, and a hospice nurse. The man knew the end was near.
So he said, “Jason, I want you to take the houses in Pacific Heights. Rebecca, you get the apartments in Oakwood Plaza. Josh, I want you to take the office building in City Center. And Susan, my dear wife...please take all the stores and residential buildings downtown.” And then the old man quietly passed away.
The nurse was impressed. She went over to the wife. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” said the nurse, “but you must be very proud of your husband for having accumulated so much wealth.” The wife said, “What wealth? He had a big paper route.”
In our world it’s impossible not to notice what other people have — or seem to have — and to make assumptions about their lives, like that nurse did.
But here’s some good advice in Lent, or any time: Don’t worry about other people’s money. First, you could very well be wrong, like the nurse in the joke. And second, looking at what other people have is a distraction from your own life. It doesn’t accomplish anything except make you feel bad (or maybe falsely good) about yourself.
Stay focused on your own life and do the best you can with it. That’s what matters.
So here are some Lenten lessons from this silly joke:
Focus on what you have, not on what you think is missing.
If you pay attention to the things you love in your own life, you can appreciate how much is right about it, and be less concerned with what someone else has.
Focus on abundance, not on scarcity.
Remember that there is more than enough to go around. Just because someone else has something does not mean you cannot have anything. You can be glad for others without depriving yourself.
Focus on your life as it is — nobody has everything they want in life — but it’s still your life and you love it.
Here’s some pretty good advice I found. If you are envious of someone else, think of this poem:
You’ve got your life and I’ve got mine.
And if we hung them out on a line,
you’d take yours and I’d take mine.
Lent is overrated. It should never overshadow Easter. Every Sunday, even in Lent, is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. So no matter what the Prayer Book says, we’re gonna say “alleluia” even in Lent.
But while Lent is overrated, it does make a good point. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We are mortal. We will not live forever on this earth. Our time here is precious, because it is limited. We are dust.
I’m going to keep saying it, because it never stops being true: Life is short. We don’t have too much time to gladden the hearts of those with whom we journey on the way.
So let us always, always, always be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.
When we do that, the blessings will flow back and forth between us and spread beyond us.
And maybe — just maybe — the blessings can spread everywhere in the world!