Today is Fat Tuesday. The day when all the world prepares for the Lenten season by acting out the things within us that required the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus for atonement. I have a snarky streak today, I’m sorry. Too many absurd campaign promise news bites.
There is a sense of “holier-than-thou” that comes over me when I watch the coverage of Mardi Gras and some of the behavior that goes on prior to the commitments and sacrifices of Lent. I begin to think, “Wow, at least we really get it. We don’t have to celebrate Lent to know what the death of Jesus is all about. I don’t need that act of sacrifice to remind me of why Easter is good news.”
Yet in even saying that I realize I’m wrong on so many levels.
Even if today is not truly Fat Tuesday, for me it’s at best Mildly Pudgy Tuesday.
In comparison to the universe-rending, world-reorganizing, death-defying and death-defeating act of Jesus the radical Galilean moving into the world and tabernacling with us only to suffer and die, my Tuesday does not hold up.
I’m not talking about taking a headfirst dip in total and complete depravity – I’m not there myself – but I am talking about this very unique and subtle realization that takes place when we are confronted with ourselves.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:22b-25)
Celebrating Lent doesn’t earn you God’s forgiveness. Yet maybe we need it to remind us what God’s favor actually means, and even our Mildly Pudgy Tuesdays can remind us of the real estate in our hearts that is yet to be annexed by the Holy Spirit.
May we celebrate the next 40 days as the road to freedom from our greatest spiritual enemy – ourselves and the death that feels so good on Fat Tuesday.