Today is Fat Tuesday. Or at it’s more often called Mardi Gras. This is the day for before Ash Wednesday, which is the starting of Lent. May people recognize this day in different ways. Some eat pancakes (Shrove Tuesday). Others get in that last bit of sweets or Diet Coke, or whatever they plan to give up as a discipline tomorrow, before Lent.
That’s where “Fat Tuesday” comes from, you have that one last party and consume that one last dessert before the fasting of Lent begins.
This season that we are entering into tomorrow, is a time of a lot of rituals and traditions. If we are not careful, we can take the rituals of the church for granted, or do them half-hearted. We can just go through the motions, not really caring about why we do things or thinking that that actions matter more than the heart behind the action.
That’s not why we do or have rituals in the church. We do them to remember. Listen to what the Lord says today in Deuteronomy 6: 20-23 about why He gave the Israelites the law:
20 When your children ask you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21 then you shall say to your children, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 The Lord displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. 23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors.
They were given the law, and told to live different, so when their kids said, “Why do we do that?” the people could say, “because we were once slaves. And the Lord your God freed us.”
The older I’ve gotten, the more the rituals of church have become dear to me. Not just because they are comforting, or remind me of my childhood, but they remind me of this. I am not the first person to walk this road. Others have walked it before me. Others that have followed Jesus have done this exact same things before. Others have shown discipline. Others have been faithful.
I find myself among that number. And for that I am thankful.
Today, Mardi Gras, remember why we eat that last peace of cheesecake. Because tomorrow, Lent starts. Tomorrow, just was Jesus walked in the desert for forty days, fasting and being tempted by the devil, so too do we walk these forty days of Lent, fasting, focusing on the sacrifice of our Lord. And remembering.
Today, remember why we do what we do. And if you don’t know why we do something, ask your preacher! Ask me! But most of all, remember the God that all these rituals point towards.