Let’s Party! Reclaiming Mardi Gras

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LET’S PARTY!- recapturing Mardi Gras
My calendar and inbox are already stuffed with plans for Lent: deep devotionals, dark reflections, penances, and pious practices. Lent is traditionally a time of reflection and spiritual health check-up. I don’t know about you, but for me the wow and wonder of Christmas (when I swore that I would rededicate myself to a closer relationship with Jesus) has faded. My journal and my book of devotionals are both collecting as much dust as my heart. My spiritual practice has gotten rusty and I am feeling the aches and pains of letting myself go, as it were.
Well, what does this have to do with Mardi Gras? Just saying the words conjures up images of wild, beads and bawdy, drunken, gaudy, and raucous behavior. Somehow that seems to be “outside” good church behavior. But in reality it has its roots in Christian observance. What the French explorers of 1703 understood, and what we need to reclaim, is that Fat Tuesday aka Mardi Gras is an essential prelude to Ash Wednesday. Too often we church people take ourselves too seriously. Church becomes all where we have fallen short and penance and not enough of the Good News that we are redeemed and loved by God always.
With winter storms, taxes, bills, and bitter temps assailing us every day; this time of year is not exactly a spirit booster. Daylight is a precious commodity and it can be a struggle to stay motivated and positive. We New Englanders need Mardi Gras more than anyone! In fact, I believe that it is Lent is deeply diminished without it! Although we do not need to use up all the “fats” in our larder before Lenten fasting as our ancestors did, we still need to feel the giddiness of life, laugh, and treat our taste buds and our souls to FUN! Otherwise we begin our Lenten journey (which grows ever darker as the weeks progress) from an already dismal place. The observance of Lent is not some limbo exercise with prizes given to the ones who can go the lowest. God gets no pleasure (and I believe is quite disappointed) when we glorify martyrdom and ignore joy!
Let us embrace joy, wear beads, eat great food, and lift our spirits on Mardi Gras! Otherwise we will not have either the desire and energy to experience a meaningful Lenten journey. Jesus’ first miracle was not at a solemn prayer meeting but a party… a feast… where people reveled for a week! Jesus was no dour Puritan to be sure. So why should we be? Let’s truly follow Jesus! First into the party and then into reflection. I hope that you will join me and New Hope UCC on Tuesday, March 5th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sturbridge. We will be following Jesus by capturing the joy of living in “Letting the Good Times Roll” or as they say in New Orleans “Laissez les bon temps roulez!”

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