On the way to church, I stopped by a casino.
This is the worst story ever told. At the conclusion of Lent, Easter and gambling can be lurking around every corner of the religious universe, much like a sneaky bunny or Jesus, unifying as one when it comes to sinning. Gambling should be the 11th commandment of sin and redemption. Thou shalt not gamble, unless it is on Easter, or the night before, or whatever. Several days ago, with March Madness diving deep into gamblers’ britches, I preached about how gambling and betting on others is not wrong, but stupid. It is stupid, yet, when you can somehow make something positive out of gambling, it can be righted and somewhat shrewd……piously speaking.
One year ago today, alone on Easter Eve, I thought I’d attend church for the first time in years. Thirty years of my Easters were spent standing behind those who flew in from Hell three times a year just to feel good about themselves. That aways intrigued me, since I spent every weekend going to church for thirty years, only to feel bad about myself. Perhaps, this is why this story may be immoral to some, yet redeeming to other scofflaws.
While my wife was away for that Easter weekend, I decided to play………some black jack. It was right on the way to the Easter Vigil service. I had fifty bucks in my wallet, and I was, with the good Lord willing, going to turn that fifty dollars into one hundred. Water into Wine, cash into chips, chips back into cash. (With the exception of water into wine, that’s gambling lingo.) I don’t know if God happily intervened on that day, but my card playing certainly became Holy. It took me ten minutes to turn that fifty dollars into two hundred. Not that I know much about this stuff, but when a gambler is on a hot streak, it’s not in his or her best interest to leave the table….or so I have read. This is where God or Jesus stepped between the dealer and me and asked what time it was. 6:45. Fifteen minutes before mass. In all my years of attending mass, I don’t remember being late. Disinterested? Yes. Tardy. Negative. Immediately, I cashed in my bones, (chips) and headed to church.
Waiting one full hour, listening to the same speech, lecture, reading, and ultimately, beautiful story I’d heard annually, I waited impatiently for the basket to sheepishly roam around the congregation awaiting my tithing. With the exception of the ten dollars I saved for some fish, chowder, chips and a beer for my own dinner, I happily dumped my gambling wins in the basket. Some say I was playing with “House” money. That day, I was playing with God’s money, and it made me feel terrific to know someone else would be eating as well as me that evening. That’s one hell of an Easter.