The Top Twelve Things I Have Learned During Lent 2020

posted on April 07

The Top Twelve Things I Have Learned During Lent 2020
It’s been six weeks since I opened the Lenten Season with a sermon and the imposition of ashes on a clear evening at Mount Carmel UMC in Reidsville. It’s been three weeks since I received the email from the Conference Office advising me that we would be transitioning to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve learned a lot.  Here are my top twelve learnings:

12. Do no harm. While Wesley’s maxim is NEVER a bad idea, it has been especially helpful this season. I imagine myself as an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19. This has helped me to embrace “my daily bread” of love and life and has inspired me to order my days. I ask myself twice if I really need to go out and consume an “essential service.” Is it worth the risk of infecting someone else?
11. The birds and the flowers were Jesus’ great object lessons about not worrying. (Matthew 6:25-34) They should be ours right now. Consider them.
10. Be patient with others in your home and life. If they are getting on your nerves, you can be fairly sure you are getting on theirs.
9. Laugh. If you have Netflix, watch comedians like Ryan Hamilton and Jim Gaffigan. They are among the cleaner crowd. You will not only laugh at them, you may laugh at yourself. It’s good for your body, releasing stress hormones and even lowering blood pressure.
8. “Look for the helpers.” Mr. (Rev.) Rogers was right. The helpers are both global and local. A few examples are John Krasinski, Pope Francis, Bill Gates, and Queen Elizabeth II. You really must watch Krasinski’s Some Good News.
7. The USPS is still running. (Thank you, postal carriers!) It’s a good time to write a note to someone, the old fashioned way. Think of it as a memento, an artifact. Mention what is going on in history and offer someone your wishes for their good health and peace. Date the letter.  
6. Do all the good you can. Several weeks ago, I received some material as a gift. I washed, pressed, and cut that material to make over 100 face masks, and a woman in our adjoining neighborhood (whom I have never met!) sewed them into masks for a local hospital. Here’s to the Next Door app!
5. Claim your intentions for the day. That may mean a “schedule” or it may just signal a daily theme or stated desire for growth. Rise with an idea of your intention, and then refine it – and reflect on it at day’s end. It’s a great time to begin the daily Examen. (I enjoy the app Reimagining the Examen).
4. Grieve. Grieve what we have lost. We have lost two laity in our Northern Piedmont District. We grieve with their families and with their pastors. We also grieve lost semesters, lost rites of passage, lost trips, lost interactions, lost events, and much more. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to stamp your feet.
3. Forgive yourself. We spend a lot of time sharing the importance of forgiving others, and we are of course grateful for the forgiveness offered on the cross this Holy Week. This is also an opportunity for you to forgive yourself. Whatever it is, whatever it was, let it go. Let a new chapter of personal history begin for you. That was then; this is now.
2. Things change. I had planned an entirely different Lenten season, with entirely different spiritual goals… yet I have learned more about God’s provision during this time than I had ever hoped. Two of God’s gifts are learning and adaptation. I have learned things that I would not have ever learned under normal circumstances.
1. Stay in love with God. God remains in love with you, and one of the gifts we have been given is the gift of time to embrace that truth. Don’t fill it all with your phone in your hand, scrolling, trolling, or toiling.  Spend it in quiet wonder. Listen for God’s voice of personal encouragement. Ask for what you need, and trust the Giver to provide it.

Love and Peace to All This Holy Week,

Rev. Bev Coppley
District Superintendent

The Top Twelve Things I Have Learned During Lent 2020