Yesterday was considered 'Fat Tuesday' or the celebration of Mardi Gras. To most this is one big spring break drunken party but it is supposed to be the celebration before the Lenten season begins, 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. This 'Fat Tuesday' is not exactly what I would recommend followers of Christ do as it is a way to eat like a glutton, drink alcohol and do all you want before having to give up stuff for lent. So a wild party atmosphere leads up to Ash Wednesday. Kind of bizarre where pagan and spiritual things are intermingled. Confusing to say the least.
The official definition of lent when I googled it was 'the period before Easter in Christian calendar: the period of 40 weekdays before Easter observed in some Christian churches as a period of prayer, penance, fasting, and self-denial."
In the Catholic church this is a very important day as today is Ash Wednesday is observed. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, some put ashes on their foreheads and observe a period of “fasting” ,abstaining from certain foods or physical pleasures, for 40 days. As I understand it this is done to imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness (See Matthew 4:1-2). In addition to food some may give up smoking, eating chocolate, chewing gum, over eating, cussing or some other vice. People vow to give up anything, as long as it prepares them for Easter. We need to be careful to not let ceremonies and religious activities take the place of a real relationship with our Lord and savior Jesus. In Amos 5:21 it says ""I hate all your show and pretense--the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies." I see this as saying, have your ceremonies and rituals but do not let them take the place of Christ in your heart.
My own opinion is it would be good to fast other times as well as it is commanded in the Bible and not just at Easter. We should pray, give and fast.(See Matthew Chapter 6). It seems you hear more of giving and praying than fasting. Fasting is harder especially if it involves food and letting your stomach growl for a while. We give up food to focus on God. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 in regards to praying for our nation it speaks of humbling yourself and in some translations this means to fast. It reads "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Lent could be a time of looking at your life and changing things that are not pleasing to God. Taking a spiritual inventory of sorts. Perhaps fasting is part of that discipline. Matthew 17:21 says ""But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."We can choose to fast to accomplish certain purposes in life.
Now when it comes to Easter and getting all spiritual this time of year why not be spiritual all year long and not wait until Easter season? God wants our obedience and love all year long. Don't just be a 'lily Christian' as an Air Force Chaplain I know calls the droves of people who come out of the woodwork at Easter. Give Jesus a prominent place in your life 365 days a year. It is great to celebrate his resurrection and it is one of my favorite Christian holidays but let Easter continue in your hearts all year long.
So remember Easter is about celebrating Jesus. Let's skip the bunnies and focus on God and everlasting life.
PRAYER: This is a special time of year Lord when we focus on your death and resurrection. We thank you for the everlasting life we have when we accept you as our Lord and savior. Show us Lord what in our lives we need to set aside in order to get closer to you.
NOTE: In conjunction with the Lenten season there is pro life movement called "40 Days for Life". I have included a link for it below.