Today is Fat Tuesday. No, I’m not making fun of someone’s weight. Go to New Orleans today, or go to where Mardi Gras really started, Mobile, Alabama and you will see what I mean. It’s the last day for indulgences before the Season of Lent begins. I guess it’s because I’m making preparations for our Ash Wednesday Service that has prompted this edition of Tuesday Thoughts.
Some folks are not familiar with or even know about Lent. The only Lent they know about is the Lint in their belly button or dryer. Yet Lent (spelled with an e and not an i) is the oldest tradition observed in the Church. Long before the Church recognized and celebrated the Incarnation, they recognized this Season of Lent. For the uninformed, Lent is a period of 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Morning when followers of Jesus are challenged to give up something–we call that Fasting. But there’s more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, right? Well, you don’t count Sundays because Sunday is to be a day of Feasting not Fasting.
There are those who consider this “too much Roman Catholic” for a good Protestant boy or girl. Others think that it is too formal or too high-church for a real believer. Well, I observe Lent and I’m not considered high-church. Good grief, I have a pony tail, beard and ride a loud motorcycle. The third highest compliment I’ve ever been given is that I don’t look like a preacher. What was the second and the highest compliment? I’ll save those for a later post. Back to Lent.
Lent is taking a journey with Jesus as He draws closer and closer to True Purpose for becoming human. His True Purpose was giving up His Eternal Nature and become one of us–the Creator became a creature. And in that act, taking it all the way to The Cross to die for all of us. So, for the next 40 days, starting tomorrow, we are challenged to walk with Jesus in light of His Sacrifice for us. He Gave Up Everything For Me, so why shouldn’t I give up something for Him?
But if I’m going to give up something for Lent, and then pick it back up AFTER Easter, have I really given up something in order “pick up my cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23) ? Not really; I’ve just left it on a shelf so that I can resume it after Easter. So I’ve got to go deeper and find those things I need to give up permanently. And today I will be doing just that–looking through all my “indulgences”, those things that prevents the image of Jesus from being clearly seen in me, and give at least one of them up permanently.
Wait, I just heard someone say, “Lent isn’t Biblical. Where does it say I should remember something that happened so long ago?” It does seem, that with the upheaval in the Southern Baptist Convention, that the Bible Thumping Fundamentalists are coming out of the woodwork. So allow me to set the record straight that God DOES WANT us to Remember. In Exodus, God commanded His people to remember their deliverance each year. It’s called Passover. Each of their other 6 Feasts were observed to remember what God had done for them.
I just heard my skeptic say, “Well, that’s the Old Testament! You won’t find that in the New Testament!” Oh, really grasshopper? How about Luke 22:19–And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And how about Bro. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26–
23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
No, God does’t need the Season of Lent; but we sure do! Lent is our reminder that following Jesus isn’t about Sunday Church. It’s about following the example of Jesus to Surrender and give up everything that we like and want in order to fulfill God’s desires for us. I will be reflecting all day about what I need to give up in order for the fullness of Christ to live in me. How about you?