Fat Tuesday is coming to be a rather popular and festive occasion–in places far away from New Orleans! Party hearty and going for the gusto sounds fun. And the prospects of eating large quantities of gumbo and washing it down with something cold may be a hoot.
But perhaps it would be worth considering the value of Ash Wednesday instead.
I recognize that this is a hard sell. Given the choice between a party or a quiet time of reflection, even the most introverted among us will suggest that a little time with some good friends and good eats is a much more inviting option.
But if we could set aside the pleasures of good company and food for a moment and ask about the ongoing human pursuit of meaning, I think that we could make a case for exploring Ash Wednesday. . . . and just as important, the season of Lent.
Many people think that Lent is a time when you are supposed to give up something–give up meat, or chocolate, or watching TV. The idea is to give up something, to do without. And by giving up something we are supposed to become more grateful, more loving, more something.
But what is we only have part of the story on this. What if giving up something during Lent is really and more fully, “Give up something so that you can receive something of greater value?”
If my hands are full, then I have no ability to accept something else–a gift from someone who loves me, perhaps? Indeed, Lent is a time when I choose to relinquish something in order that I might receive something–something of greater value than the things we normally fill our hands–our lives–up with.
And so, Christian people use the time leading up to Easter Sunday to practice letting go so that we can receive. And the gift that God has in mind is a whole lot better than gumbo!
If you would like to explore the season of Lent, here are some resources for you.
Additionally, different members of the church staff will post each week leading up to Easter, a brief guide for the week. That guide will offer scripture, thoughts, and ideas about how we can let go, in order to receive the goodness of God.