Tag Archives: Season

Fat Tuesday


Welcome to the big day before the big day! Redundant statement? Yes. Kind of fun to put together? Absolutely. Moving on now? Affirmative.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Today is known as Fat Tuesday. It is actually a rather interesting day. The tradition of Lent is to prepare for the celebration of Easter through prayer, deep reflection, and often, sacrifice. For some, Fat Tuesday (and the time leading up to it) has turned into an opportunity to go crazy before making a sacrifice on Ash Wednesday. But really, that is not what I am thinking about today.

Today, I am really curious as to what the season of Lent may hold. For me, there is something important about these seasons. They really become times that help focus my attention. So what might I learn this season? I’m not sure, but I am looking forward to it with anticipation!


Fasting


Modern life offers many luxurious “perfumes” to cover up the smell of eternal death. When we are enjoying our favorite foods and entertainments, it can be easy to forget the decay of sin and death all around us. Lent helps us to remember that there is only one who actually reverses decay- the God who raises the dead.– Timothy G. Walton

As we move into the fifth week of Lent, this is a perfect opportunity to reflect on our fasting. Many of us gave up something for the season leading to Easter. At this point, it is good to ask, How is that going?

How is your fast? What are you learning? How is God using it to teach you? Has your fast become an annoying habit or a purposeful experience that is focusing you on God?

Let us not lose site of why we would participate in a fast. Instead, let us remember who God is, what God has done, and live in a way that responds to the grace of God.

Isaiah 58:1-14

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
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 him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10  if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13  “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


Hungry


We are now one week into the season of Lent. It was a week ago that some of us decided to sacrifice something for the season. Some of us may have decided to take up a practice during these days that lead to Easter. I am curious- how is it going for you?

I was reflecting on how this week has gone while I read today’s passages. They are not very long passages, from Deuteronomy 8:3 and Psalm 51:17. The questions I wrestled with while reading were: When I’m hungry for what I have given up, am I allowing that to remind me of my deep need for Jesus? Am I just following through with this practice of Lent, or is it helping to soften my heart and create a desire for Jesus? What is happening in my heart during this season? Am I being broken and drawn closer to Jesus? And what about the practice that I have taken up? Is it just another part of my to-do-list? Or am I allow the practice to really get into my core and help me become more like Jesus?

I hope that this journey is challenging you. What I am discovering is that it can be a fantastic time of drawing closer to Jesus. I’m thankful for the season. It is helping me to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus and be challenge to live with a softened heart towards God. I pray it is doing the same for you.


Ash Wednesday


Today marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. Lent is the season on the Church calendar that leads up to Easter. For the next 46 days, the focus of the Church will be to prepare for Easter… to prepare to remember the death and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

More specifically, today is Ash Wednesday. For many years, the tradition for the Church has been to mark Ash Wednesday by starting a journey which prepares us as individuals and a congregation for Easter. One part of this journey is sacrifice. Many Christians observe the season by fasting, or giving something up, for the 40 days that lead to Easter. (Many people do not observe their fast on Sundays because Sunday is recognized as a day of celebration with the congregation. Therefore, it’s a 40 day fast.)

The sacrifice that a person makes for the season is supposed to help focus his or her attention on the sacrifice that Jesus made. The longing for whatever it is that has been sacrificed should awaken a longing for Jesus instead. The journey is intended not to just be a random practice, but an opportunity to draw closer to who Jesus is by identifying with Him through sacrifice and longing.

The other part of the journey is the act of taking up a practice. If I give up something for the next 40 days, I need to consider what I am taking up to replace it…. What practice am I going to take up that will help me draw closer to Jesus? In giving something up, I’m creating space in my life. The space will be filled with something… the question is with what will I fill it?

I would encourage you to consider what Ash Wednesday will mean for you. What will you do during this season to prepare for Easter?

Scripture readings for today:

Joel 2:12-17

Return to the Lord

12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.

17  Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Matthew 6:16-12

Fasting

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.