Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday(Shroud Tuesday),National Pancake Day, Ash Wednesday, Lent & Easter

When March hits we know that we are entering the season of Spring and when Spring is in the air, we know that it is getting close to Easter. I have many friends from all over the world(an advantage to being in the Military), and although we may have different views on some things, we still are friends. Lately, I have been intrigued by some of my friends views or traditions and today I am going to address some of them and what my views and beliefs are.

First, Mardi Gras. What do you think of when you here, "Mardi Gras"? I was talking with the Major about this and the first things that I think of are drinking and rawdy people. Yes, that is what I think of because really what is Mardi Gras, and how did it start? Mardi Gras( known as Carnivale in Italy or Fasching in Germany) dates back 1000's of years. Mardi Gras is a prelude to Lent, the forty days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. So, traditionally in the days leading up to Lent, people would binge and eat all of the meat, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. in their homes. Why? Because they knew that for several weeks they would only eat fish and fast. Thus, making the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday or Carnivale or Fasching) . What does carnivale(carnelevarium) mean: To take away or remove meat. Regardless of what country "Fat Tuesday" is celebrated, it is still celebrated with drinking and rawdiness. I have lived in Italy and Germany and I have seen this first hand. Crazy! Not only was yesterday "Fat Tuesday", it was also National Pancake Day! Did you have pancakes yesterday?!?

Next, Ash Wednesday. Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the beginning of Lent. This is usually the time when some will prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting. Many hold Ash Wednesday services, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican and Roman Catholics are some that do. During these services, the minister or priest, will rub the sign of the crosss with ashes on the foreheads of worshipers. Why? To show a sign of repentance, mourining, fasting and spiritual discipline. Baptists do not believe in this tradition. Although it does mention repentance and mourning in ashes(Esther 4:1, 2 Samuel 13:19, Job 2:8, and Daniel 9:3), it does not mention Ash Wednesday or Lent.

Next is Lent. What is Lent? Lent is a time when some prepare for Easter by fasting, repentance, moderation or spiritaul discipline. Do all oberseve Lent, no, not all religions or Christians or Churches do. My family and I are Baptist and we, nor our Church observe Lent. Many of my friends observe Lent and I have enjoyed seeing what they are giving up/fasting til Easter. Things such as: chocolate, coffee, internet, FB, tv, sweets, etc. What is fasting? Some connect it or call it a spiritual discipline. Some connect it with prayer, Bible study and meditation. We do not fast or observe Lent. Do we believe in fasting, yes, but as an individual private spiritual matter, not as a centralized church authority commanding worshipers to fast over a certain period. We believe that each individual is responsible and accountable individually to God.

Palm Sunday and Good Friday.....Palm Sunday is the Sunday in which we remember Jesus' triumphal entrance into Jerusalem the week before his death and resurrection. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and many threw palm leaves on the ground as he rode through and waved palm branches as he passed. Good Friday is observed the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day we, as Christians, remember the passion, suffering, and death on the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Finally, Easter. Easter is the Sunday in which we, Christians, celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus rose from the dead 3 days after he died and we celebrate His resurrection at Easter. Easter is also the one of the two Sundays of the year (the other is Christmas) when you will see your Church packed with limited seating. Very sad to see all of those in Church on Easter that "feel" they should be in Church on Easter (or Christmas) and no other Sunday of the year! Sad, very sad. If we can not attend Church when our Church has services and worship the Lord, then what do you think heaven is going to be like (if you are a Christian)?!?! Heaven is going to be our heavenly home where we will worship the Lord constantly, and praise Him with dancing and singing. Yes, I said dancing! Many Baptist do not believe in dancing, but I am not one of them, it says that we will be dancing in heaven. Don't believe me? Get your Bible out and go to Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150:4, Psalm 150:1-6 and Jeremiah 31:13.

I talked about a lot of things today, but it's things that I have really been thinking about lately especially since we are entering the Spring season. Can friends of different faiths, traditions and religions be friends? You bet they can! If we were all made the same the world would be a very boring place. The only important thing in life is the one very importand decison that you need to make in life, and that is: Where are you going to spend eternity, heaven or hell? Have you invited and asked Jesus into your life? If not, I encourage you to do so. It's so easy to do, as easy as A,B,C.

A: Admit that you are a sinner.

B: Believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son and He was crucified, died and rose again on the third day.

C: Confess that you want Jesus to be Lord of your life. Trust Him to be your Savior and Lord.

Blessings to you!

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