What Are You Giving Up for Lent?
I remember, a couple of years ago, I was back in Australia right at the beginning of Lent. It was Ash Wednesday evening and the phone rang.
I was walking by just as it rang. And so, I picked it up. And a little voice on the other end of the phone said, "Is that you, Uncle Matt?" I say, "Yeah, this is me." It was my niece, Zoe. She said, "Hi, Uncle Matt, it's Zoe." I said, "Hi, Zoe. How are you?" She said, "I'm good, Uncle Matt." I said, "Zoe, how did you know it was me?" I got seven brothers. I say, "Zoe, how did you know it was me?" She says, "Oh, Uncle Matt, you sound like an American." I said, "Thank you, Zoe." I ask her, "How was your day, Zoe?" She said, "Oh, Uncle Matt, I had a busy day. I went to school, and then I came home, and I did some homework. And then I went to volleyball practice, and then I came home. I did some more homework. We had some dinner. Then I went to church, and I got ashes." "What do you mean you got ashes?" "Yeah, Uncle Matt. Father, he made a big mess on my head with those ashes this year." I said, "Really?" She said, "Yeah." I said, "Well, what did Father talk about?" "What do you mean, Uncle Matt?" "Before communion, Father normally talks a bit." "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, Uncle Matt, I remember. He talked about giving up stuff for Lent. Guess what I'm going to give up, Uncle Matt?" "No idea, Zoe. What are you going to give up?" "Coca-Cola." I said, "Zoe, you really like Coca-Cola." She says, "Yeah, I know, Uncle Matt, but Father, he was talking about giving up something that's really difficult. So, for me, Coca-Cola." I said, "Well, that's great, Zoe."
Two days later, Friday evening, I'm out at the basketball. I'm out at the basketball with my two nieces, Emma and Zoe. Emma's the elder. She's playing in the basketball game. Zoe's the younger. And she's sitting next to me with five or six of her little giggling friends from school. So, I look across halfway through the second half, and Zoe is guzzling down a large bottle of Coca-Cola. She is guzzling down a large bottle of Coke. I don't say anything. I just sort of smile to myself. Turned back to the game. About five minutes later, there's a tug on my shoulder, "Uncle Matt, Uncle Matt, I forgot." I look at her, I say, "You forgot what, Zoe?" "Oh, Uncle Matt, I forgot. I gave up Coca-Cola for Lent, and I just drank a bottle of Coca-Cola." I didn't say anything. I just looked at her and smiled. She said, "It's all over now. I have to wait till next year."
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