Ann Stock of Mother of Dolors Catholic Church spoke at the fourth Lenten Luncheon held by the Vandalia Ministerial Alliance, held at Mother of Dolors.
The guests, members of the various churches of Vandalia and the surrounding area, were seated at tables covered with white cloths, with spring-fresh décor of small nests made of twigs, holding colored eggs and flowers, with butterflies perched on top. At each place setting, there was also a plastic Easter egg holding candy and a hand-written note with the message, “God loves you”.
Debbie Themig welcomed all and Mariann Timmerman led in a prayer of blessing for the meal, which was prepared and served by the women of the church.
Following the meal, Themig and Timmerman sang a duet, accompanied by pianist Pat Buscher. Themig introduced the speaker, Ann Stock, who opened with, “Our Lenten Journey is just past the halfway point – we are about 3½ weeks into the six weeks of Lent, a time of pause and reflection in the Church year.”
She talked of possessions, of things we hold dear that we sacrifice for Lent and, in doing so, realize that they are not really a need. “We may enjoy them and that is fine,” she said, “But if we did not have them, we would still have what matters most, and that is God.”
“We are more than our jobs, our homes and our possessions. We were created for a higher purpose. We are pilgrims on a journey. When we reach middle age and beyond, we look back and wonder where the years have gone by.
“This is where the joy of Easter takes us beyond the soberness of Lent. We are not living in the present time awaiting to face our ultimate death. We are actually somewhere along a pathway moving toward eternal life
“Our time on earth may be short or long, but it is but a blink of an eye, compared to eternity. This should not make us sad or worried. We are on a continuous movement toward a life where there is no death, where we return to our true home with God.
“A message of detachment – when we travel, we don’t take everything with us; we decide what is essential and leave the rest behind,” she said.
“So, it is up to us to decide how much baggage we will carry on our earthly journey. One day we will leave, and it will be left behind. No matter how much we will cherish something, it will be someone else’s property to do with as they will.”
Stock reminded us of auction tables, where a person’s life-long possessions are spread out for others to pick over and bid on – a stark reality that tells us that those things are not really what mattered in life.
She referred to Scripture from 1 Peter 2:11, Luke 14:33, Hebews 11:14-16; Romans 12:22 and Matthew 16:24-26.
“The Scriptures are not telling us that we should have no possessions and expect others to feed, clothe, house and provide for all our needs.” She said,
“It tells us just the opposite – we are to work to provide for our own food, and for the poor.
“We must keep in mind that we own them, they do not own us. We must be ready at any moment to leave it all behind without a single worry or care when we are rewarded with our final journey home to see God, face to face, leaving one with the inspiration to look closely into one’s life, and feel the desire to leave behind more than material possessions, like a fulfilling joy, happiness, peace, strength and hope, that can only be found in with God, through love for Jesus.”