Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for Lent

It's Shrove Tuesday! It's Mardi Gras. It's the last day of Carnivale. Where ever you may be and however you may practice it, today is the last day before Lent begins. We'll have a pancake supper in the church hall this evening including pancake races for the kids and perhaps other pancake games. Luckily, someone else is in charge. Fascination with pancakes wasn't part of the Shrove Tuesday practices I grew up with.

Since this is the 2nd Tuesday of March we would have been having a meal together tonight anyway. We usually gather on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for a modest meal and conversation. Someone chooses a topic in advance which Linda Gardner and I present, often with handouts and flip charts to write lists on. We particularly enjoy using paper tablecloths and making crayons available so people can doodle or write their ideas while someone else is talking. Tonight, however, we're just going to have fun together. I'm even going to wear jeans!

We don't do that very often - get together as a congregation just to have fun. Oh there is the annual church picnic, but even that is a form of outreach. We invite a local women's recovery home to come sing at worship and join us for the picnic and we hold the event on our front lawn so the whole neighborhood can see and maybe want to come join in the fun. And we have our fellowship time after worship but those conversations usually revolve around church business and outreach and the planning of upcoming events. We are, in fact, usually so busy being church folks that we maybe forget to be just plain folks.

So it's really appropriate on this night before the beginning of Lent that we should give ourselves up to fun and laughter and pancake races. It is in the spirit of Mardi Gras and Carnivale even though a bit more restrained. Because tomorrow begins the season of fasting and preparation. Not fasting in the sense of giving up chocolate and other luxuries, but fasting in the sense of personal transformation. Fasting in the sense that we heard it from the prophet Isaiah

58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

crossposted as Tuesday's Child on The Intersection: Where Faith Meets Life