Fat Tuesday was two days ago. It is the day before the season of Lent begins. In Michigan on Fat Tuesday we eat Pazcki (a polish jelly donut—twice the fat, twice the calories, and twice the yumminess of a regular donut). In New Orleans Fat Tuesday is the end of Marti Gras and the end of the hedonistic revelry that has consumed that city for weeks. Wherever you live, Fat Tuesday is supposed to be the end of our self-focused outlook on life (read: FAT chance).
Ash Wednesday was yesterday and is the first day in the season of Lent. Many people attend services where the imposition of ashes is to remind the worshippers of the words from Genesis 3:19: “For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” It’s the beginning of the time of preparation for the journey to the cross and eventually to Easter morning celebrations. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a Christ-focused outlook.
There is no special adjective for today—the Thursday after Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. So I will offer these choice describers for this day:
WASH YOUR FOREHEAD THURSDAY
If you attended a service where Ashes were imposed– it’s a good day to wipe clean your forehead or tomorrow may be known as ZIT FILLED FRIDAY. But don’t wipe clean the memories of commitments and sacrifices you have promised to keep for the next 40 days.
This is not a shameless plug for the new, hot off the presses must-read book Chronic Pain by a certain handsome author (OK that was a shameless plug. I apologize). Rather choose a book that will help you keep your focus on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Recent books like Francis Chan’s Crazy Love or the Nazarene Publishing House’s Ashes to Fire or an oldie but still a goodie, Dietrich Bonheoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship are all good reads for the Season of Lent.
Many people have decided to fast something during the season of Lent to help remind them of the sacrifice that Jesus made on their behalf. Chocolate, coffee, Facebook and soda pop seem to be the favorite choices of most folks I know. All those are fine choices, if every day they remind you of what Jesus did on the cross for you and if you didn’t choose to fast them because you “needed to lose a little weight anyway.” Remember why you are fasting whatever it is you are fasting.
Do you remember God’s words to the people during the prophet Amos’ day who were into showy worship and all the pomp and circumstance of offering sacrifices to God while at the same time they were oppressing the poor?
So God bluntly told them:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harpBut let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)
The Warning: Don’t just fast something during Lent so you can tell your friends what a wonderful Christian you are because you gave up chocolate for seven weeks—make a difference by letting justice and righteousness rule your day. Look around and notice the hurting and the troubled and decide to help a neighbor. I seriously doubt that one homeless person is going to care if you decided to stop paying four bucks for a Starbucks coffee for the next 40 days, but they might be blessed if you used your that same four bucks to help end their suffering.
These are just a few suggestions for today. Bottom line—let today (and every day) be known as LIVING-FOR-JESUS THURSDAY.