Today’s story seed is the Perfect Party.
Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God,
For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting in punishment.
Listen to this story seed. A family was about to host an annual party. They had invited all of their friends and many other acquaintances. Each member of the family truly wanted the party to be perfect.
They wanted people to see their beautiful house. They cleaned and decorated until it looked remarkable. They wanted their friends to notice the details, like the way the napkins were folded, the way the fresh-cut flowers were displayed, and how the family was providing expensive wines and top-choice meats.
Yet the preparations were filled with arguments over who was to do what chores. They refused to help each other. They begrudgingly finished the tasks to prepare for the party. Once finished, they were disgruntled as they put on their nicest clothes for the gathering.
When the guests arrived, the family smiled, but to each other they sneered. Their clean house, elaborate decorations, and expensive food and drink, were not enough to change the atmosphere of the party. The guests were cordial, but didn’t stay long. Laughter was stifled. The whole affair was uneasy.
And everyone was glad when it was done.
Can you picture a party like that? Perhaps you have even experienced it. You see, this well-intentioned family, missed the most important part. It is not the appearance that matters most. It is the authentic hospitality of the people that truly matters.
Who wants to go to a party where the hosts are fighting with each other?
As we start this Lenten season, we do well to pay attention to what is most important. The scripture today tells you to “rend your hearts, not your garments.”
In other words, you have to do the work inside yourself. It is not about the things people see you do. If you make extra charitable gifts, recite more Our Fathers, and don’t eat chocolate, all those can be good things. But they make no difference if they don’t affect you from the inside, if they don’t rend your heart, if they don’t tear at your callous behavior and allow room for you to grow closer to God.
And the good news is that as you get closer to God, you find mercy, forgiveness, and love. That is the generous hospitality of our Lord who invites you into the sacred house. Most people don’t think of Lent as a party, but when you visit God’s house, you will always be welcomed with open arms. Come, and be refreshed during this annual gathering that invites us to find what matters most in life.
Join the party smiling from your inside and out.
Now let’s take 30 seconds to water the seed…
How can you let go of appearances and truly draw closer to God this Lenten season?