"But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which God loved..." + Ephesians 2:4 

Every Lent, I set a goal.  It’s usually a variation on this theme: consume less, be kinder to my husband, be more patient with my kids.  By the end of the first week, I’ve already blown it.  I’m not so bad at “consuming less,” but my sharp voice comes so quickly. 

So I appreciate the traditions that take a break halfway through Lent.  You take a day off, throw up your hands, and admit that you are lost, a hopeless case.  Eat chocolate and french fries; dine on beer and brats.  Admit it: there is no way you can keep the faith 'til the last nail is in the cross. 

It’s like halftime in the big game.  Your team is down by twenty against a stronger, bigger opponent.  You head into the locker room at halftime knowing that when the buzzer goes off, you’re going to come up short: hoarding your money or yelling at the kids, envying the neighbor who is thinner or richer. 

But just when you could give in to despair and despondency, Ephesians gives us another word: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which [God] loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”  Ephesians 2:4–5

"But God, who is rich in mercy…"  With that, the entire game changes.  It’s not what we thought it was.  It’s not about us, after all.  It’s not about what we can do or how we can change.  It’s about God, who is rich in mercy.  It’s about grace - God’s love - free and unconditional.  Nothing you can earn, win, deserve. 

And at the end of the game?  As it turns out, it wasn't ultimately about keeping score anyway. By the merciful grace of God, we all get to climb the ladder and cut the nets down. 

God of mercy and grace, you know how hard we try, and how short we fall.  May the promise of your grace, which fills the gaps we cannot fill, sustain us this day. Amen.


Thanks to Mark McCartney for this portrait of wisdom in the midst of March Madness!  And thanks again to the ever eloquent Holly McKissick for this timely reflection!