Good morning! Our final devotional for this season of Lent comes to us from David Cooper! I have no doubt that David is known to many of you – his great sense of humor, welcoming smile, deep sense of care and compassion, and genuine desire to be in relationship with those he comes in contact with each day, leave a lasting impression to say the least. For those of you who maybe haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him and experiencing those wonderful gifts, Coop (as he is known by many) is the Associate Director of Residential Living, Housing & Residence Life here at TCU. He really is an amazing man – you should get to know him. As we discussed the possibility of him writing a devotional, I was impressed to learn about the deep significance that Lent has for him. That’s exactly what he’s written about today. I hope his words will prompt you to think about your own connection to Lent, and will inspire you to go deeper in your faith journey not only this week, but throughout the days, weeks, and months ahead. Thank you for joining us and letting us be a part of your Lenten experience, and may you have a wonderful Easter weekend.
Blessings on your journey,
March 24, 2016 By: David Cooper
Read Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The Lent season has always been an interesting time for me. As a child, it meant that I would get a nice basket of candy in about 40 days or so. In my 20’s, it meant a trip to New Orleans to feast before the famine in true Mardi Gras style. But the last 12 years, Lent has taken on a more powerful meaning for me – the concepts of love and forgiveness.
In my humble opinion, love is the most powerful emotion out there. I have been blessed to be raised in a family environment that was grounded … in love from my parents, siblings, grandparents, and so on My father drove this point home by paying up to $500 for our dog at the veterinary clinic and when questioned by me, “Why would you spend so much on a dog that is 10 years old?” His response was simple, “You take care of those you love.” Simple, yet very powerful.
There finally came the moment when I met the love of my life, someone who could replace my mother on that metaphoric pedestal of greatness. We courted for a year and then became engaged and started the wedding planning. We had a goal in mind to marry before she graduated from veterinary school to help with basic things in life. So we looked to the month of April. The first few dates where shot down because of Lent. We were able to secure the first Saturday after Easter – which had to be at 9:30am due to the small Catholic Church in Monroe, Louisiana, already had two weddings booked for the same reason – no weddings during Lent season.
This was very powerful to me for the reason that it drove home the point that we should observe and truly pay respect during this season. Even wanting to participate in a holy sacrament would have to wait as we observed Lent. For me, it solidified that Lent should be spent preparing for Easter by participating in a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. To set aside time for reflection on Jesus – specifically his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection. With the love that Jesus showed us in forty days, we could wait to start our life together.
Forgiveness is the second concept that comes to my mind during Lent. The process of selecting a “Best Man” was pretty simple for me. I have had many great friends in my life, but in different sections and time periods. There has been one man who has always stood out to me for the entirety of my life: my father. The only concern I had with him serving in this role was that he had not participated in church for over 30 years.
We had a nice conversation about this, and he agreed to go to confession. We went together the Friday before the wedding date. As we walked out to the car after confession, I made the joke that the rest of his day was shot with his penance. “Over thirty years of not participating in the church – yup – let’s drop you off at the library or the house so you can get started.” He looked at me and smiled with the wisdom he has always shown. His penance was to read the Parable of the Prodigal Son and reflect on how this relates to his life.
He knew the basis of the parable, but he wanted to honor the commitment, so we went back to my house, and he read the scripture and reflected on it. Afterwards, we went to the park and played basketball and talked about how impactful his penance was. It was a great moment for me as he shared his reflection on life, marriage, and how powerful confession was for him and his commitment to the church moving forward. I am proud to say that in the 12 years since, he can count missing mass on one hand! To me, this has blended the power of love and forgiveness in one time period – Lent – as Jesus accepted death to show his love for us and at the same time he asked God to forgive those who persecuted him.
God, we thank you for the gift of your love and forgiveness. Help us to offer those same gifts to others each day. Amen.