Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday and Prairie Ash Wednesday

I came this close to speaking to the HOA spy, I mean inspector this afternoon.  He was noting violations and then taking pictures of a house one block away.  Since I saw him as I was going to the mail boxes, I decided to come around the block and see if he was on our cul de sac next.  No, the guy had moved on.  Funny, I kind of thought the inspector would be a woman and not a fastidious man. 

Today is Fat Tuesday and tomorrow Ash Wednesday.  Some years the Lenten season comes and goes without nary a thought on my part.  Sometimes I have been amused by the choices people make for Lent.  More times than not, I am more amused by the announcement of their Lenten sacrifices.  Others are more subdued and don't make a big drama thing about it.  This morning I read several online articles on lent, what it is and isn't.  There is more to lent than giving up chocolate, sweets or Facebook or Twitter.   So, I began to run through the likes and loves of my life and what precious thing should I give up?  Of course you can be less than honest and give up Downton Abby, (season finale was Sunday night), smoking (I don't smoke but giving up the desire to smoke, which  I don't have), or chocolate (really not a huge fan and it wouldn't be any kind of a sacrifice to give it up.)  Nothing came to me, I wasn't impressed in any big, dramatic or drastic give up.  So, I went on about my day, laundry and picking up some clutter.  I watched a few minutes of Hoarding last night and it is always good for a better than average pick up.  I ran a few errands and while sitting in the car wash I heard what my Lenten theme should be, "get closer."  It isn't so much a thing, but like Pastor Gregg spoke on Sunday, the what.  Lent is about prayer, fasting and alms giving.  Lent is about examining my life and what keeps me from following Christ completely.  I found this quote on a Catholic website and the quote is quite good and sums it up completely,

 "Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life. That always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ. For catechumens, Lent is a period intended to bring their initial conversion to completion."  I don't know if I am or what a catechumens is. 

Totally, this not a cop out on my part, but Lent will be a time to embrace what pleases God.  It will be a time of prayer.  Fasting will be not just food but a multiple of things.  Alms giving or just plain giving will be a huge part of the celebration of 40 days growing closer to the Lord and not letting those sins that beset and keep me from running the race, walking the path, taking the journey, and watching and listening for the ways of the Lord.  Gratitude and thankfulness will have a huge part as well. 

I know this is nothing new and many, many, many...have celebrated Lent this way in the years gone by but it is a new message to me.  Baptists don't really give much credence to Lent, we don't officially practice it.  Guess I am trying to say, it isn't in the Baptist Faith and Message.  Maybe it should be.    So it will be interesting the next forty days and I assume that includes 40 nights.  I may share on the blog.  I may just keep these things to myself and the trusty journal.  Isaiah 58 is looking really different to me.  It's not just about the giving up and going through liturgical motions, it's about the Lord being our great delight.  This is the kind of fasting God wants,

 6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

The result that comes from this kind of fasting?

8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.

Those of you who know me well, know the portion of fasting that is going to be the most difficult for me.  Believe me, I'll be quoting, claiming and believing verses 8-12. 

So for now on Fat Tuesday.... I wait for Wednesday.  Think I will go out to our fire pit to find some ash, because I won't find it at the million of Baptist churches out here on the prairie.  It's pecan ash, not palm.  Seems to fit me, being that I am kind of nutty and all. 


courtney said...

this is a good word for me to read today. thanks, mon.

Wils said...

A useful read for me too Nancy - Irish Presbyterians don't pay much attention to Lent, but it's been creeping up on my consciousness over recent weeks.

(You guys get Downton Abbey????!!! Wow.)