Tonight we gather to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. Or, depending what part of the world you are from, also known as Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day. Today is also “Super Tuesday”, but with the gene pool being as shallow as it is for this election I’m not sure what’s so “super” about it. But, I digress… We will have the traditional pancakes, but we also be serving gumbo, jambalaya, and other Cajun delicacies to throw in a touch of the Mardi Gras spirit.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the holiest time of the Christian year. For centuries, the faithful have gone to church on this day to have their brow symbolically marked with a cross of ashes. Traditionally, the ashes come from burning the palms saved from the previous Palm Sunday. And so, tomorrow, our rector will use his right thumb to apply the ashes to our foreheads while saying the prayer, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The 40-day Lenten season will then commence.
It’s common for Christians to sacrifice something for Lent. No, not small animals, virgins, or anything of the sort. Generally folks will give up a favorite food, beverage or behavior. It should be something that is actually difficult to give up so the idea of “sacrifice” is real. It’s also common for folks to take on a discipline, such as a Bible study, joining a small group, or new ministry. For me, it’s always harder to take something on than to give something up. I haven’t decided yet, but I actually may do both this year; give something up and take something on. I’m open for suggestions! You know…when I stop and think…how small is my sacrifice compared to the one made for me? Saying, “Thank you, Lord.” is not enough, but, thank you, Lord!
So, if you are so inclined, what are you giving up or taking on this Lenten season?