Daily Devotion - Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Today is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the season of Lent--the roughly forty days preceding Easter. The name of this day of celebration was originally derived from the word shrive, which means to "absolve."
The original idea behind this historic feast day was that you would spend Shrove Tuesday in self-examination over all of the amendments you needed to make in your life, (the things you needed to give up, as well as the things you needed to add) in order to prepare yourself for the coming of Easter.
Most of us probably know this day better as Mardi Gras, which is French for "Fat Tuesday," a day that is marked by revelry, parades, colorful costumes and masks, and of course a whole lot of indulgence in food and drink. Lots of food and drink.
When you start doing research on the origins of this historic, Christian feast day you discover that one of the traditional ways to celebrate it is by eating tons of pancakes. In recent years, my family has adopted this tradition mostly because it's completely awesome to have pancakes for dinner. One year my wife Merideth made chocolate chip, bacon pancakes for our celebration. That was a very good year.
Some Christians choose not to celebrate historic feast days like Mardi Gras because they object to how they've been associated with the institutional church. Others point out that, like many of the ancient Christian feast days, Mardi Gras has pagan origins that are connected to the worship of seasonal gods and goddesses. As a result, many Christians simply ignore them.
I used to be among them, in fact.
I see this all a bit differently than I used to, however. Renowned theologian G.K. Chesterton once wrote, "Tradition is the democracy of the dead." I rather like that notion. It connects me to the , I believe that any tradition that is held for the glory of God, and for the purpose of spiritual growth and maturity for Christ-followers is a tradition that is worth holding.
When we seek to reclaim some of these historic traditions of the Church, especially ones like Mardi Gras that have fallen on hard times and have been co-opted by a self-indulgent culture, we live into the hope of Jesus Christ, who embodies the loving, resurrecting and restorative nature of God.
In Revelation 21:5 Jesus speaks this hope into the Church when he says, "I am making all things new." Then he says, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true!" How can you not love that? Jesus is saying, "In case you didn't catch what I just said... write it down. I make everything new!"
Let's reclaim these historic Church traditions in the name of Jesus. Celebrate Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday or whatever you want to call it with family and friends. Make today a day you remember your blessings and the gifts that you've been given. Let it also be a day that you begin thinking of what areas in your life that could use some transformation. And go ahead. Celebrate with a whole lot of joy, and a huge stack of pancakes.
May you be filled with joy and expectation as you approach this blessed season of Lent, the forty days leading to Easter. May you find ways to reflect on your faith and your relationship with Jesus. May you be filled with hope that the One who walked this rode to the Cross for the sake of the world is still in the business of making things new. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.