We all know there are seasons to life. As a parent there are years when you’re pregnant, when you have babies, toddlers, preschoolers, etc. Lots of times you have combinations of these. Your attendance at church services will be different when you have many small children versus when you have teenagers. But even then, it’s not that simple. I have many friends who have one or more children on the autistic spectrum. I have friends dealing with chronic health problems that make attendance at church a rare event, friends who are struggling with families falling apart, family members with life-threatening illnesses, dire financial situations, and a friend who will probably be hospitalized tomorrow for preeclampsia. None of them have been able to make it for the full cycle of services for Lent, much less all of the services of Holy Week so far. If you are in this camp, please do not beat yourself up! Lent is not a contest to see how many services you can attend! We all run the race, and try to finish the course, but for some people, just attending a half a service takes more stamina and courage than it does for another person to make it through all dozen-odd services of Holy Week. We’re not running the race against each other, but with each other. Remember the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom?
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant
triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter
into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him
now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let
him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour,
let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the
sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be
deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw
near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh
hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who
is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he
gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who
has wrought from the first hour. (read the rest)
Pascha is coming! Let us all finish the course, these last few days, rejoicing in our Lord’s mercy and graciousness, secure in the knowledge of his perfect love, not mourning our shortcomings, real or imagined.