The party in N’Awlins starts in NINE days! Who is going??? Maybe you aren’t making the trip to the wild and crazy shindig, but you could have your very own Fat Tuesday, February 12th, events planned. My mom always made a huge pancake breakfast for dinner on Fat Tuesday. It is one of my most beloved traditions growing up.
Do you know that the reason for “the party” or the binging on food and using up all the fat and sugar in the house comes from an ancient practice of clearing the pantry for a forty-day observance of Lent? Lent is the season when Christians focus on simple living and prayer to deepen their relationships with God. For forty days, except Sundays (which are always a day of celebration), Christians often do special things to focus their thoughts to God. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 13th, this year, with a service including the imposition of ashes made from burning the palm branches left from Palm Sunday last year. The ashes are meant to help us recognize our mortality (dust to dust, ashes to ashes) and recognize our life as a gift from God.
The season of Lent begins with the story of John the Baptist meeting Jesus at the river and the voice of God declaring Jesus his beloved son. Afterwards, Jesus went into the desert for forty days where he fasted and prayed, was tempted by Satan, and grew ready to begin his ministry. We emulate this time with God during Lent, finding ways to return our focus and strengthen our ministry and service. Lent is a time to repent—to “turn around and walk the other way,” which is what repent means. Christians have many ways to choose to help them concentrate their vision. Some fast, start a journal, set a time for intentional prayer. Growing up I always gave something up (usually frozen yogurt) and took something new on. Whatever you do, don’t walk around mourning and droopy, announcing to the world that you “gave up xyz” and are therefore suffering untold pain. Offer your sacrifice with joy and let it grow in you with praise.
A few ideas for your Lenten fast could be:
1. Fast from your absolute favorite food.
2. Fast from your beloved Starbucks drink.
3. Fast from your time on facebook.
4. Fast from your favorite TV show.
5. Fast from spending money on any “extras”.
Ideas of things you could take on during Lent:
1. Send a note of encouragement to someone every morning. It could be an email, tweet, or text.
2. Read one Psalm every day.
3. Choose to pay it forward once a week. Buy a strangers meal, drink, or gasoline.
4. Journal your morning thoughts every day in Lent.
5. Turn off your radio or TV in the car and have conversation or pray.
I would love to hear your ideas! What ideas for fasting or taking something new on during Lent can you offer?