As I write this, it is Shrove Tuesday or sometimes known as Fat Tuesday. It comes from an old European tradition of removing all of the fat from one’s house before Lent begins. So folks would get together and eat up all of the butter, eggs, milk, and meat in their homes that would spoil over the next forty days.
Lent was a time for fasting, a time for giving up something; however, I’ve always believed that Lent should be a time of taking something on. For me the Lenten discipline consists of finding some activity or endeavor that draws me closer to God and to Jesus Christ. Lent should be a time for us to focus our attention on what the cross means and why it is so significant for our faith.
Recently I was in conversation with a Jewish rabbi who asked me that very question, why is it that the cross is so important to you Christians? I responded the way I always love to, with a question, “Why is it that the exodus and the Torah are so important to you Jews?” Of course he responded by saying, “Well, those are the things that formed us into a group and a nation, and remind us of just how much God loves us.” And I responded, “And for us, all of that happens at the cross.” You see for Christians the cross symbolizes God cutting in to human history and claiming us as God’s own.
We all look for signs of God’s grace and the assurance that we are loved by God. I can think of no better way for us as Christians than to realize that through the death and suffering and resurrection of Jesus, God’s own Son, we have been claimed as the children of God and made heirs with Christ as brothers and sisters. I informed the rabbi that as Presbyterians we believe that we too are children of the covenant, not by some genetic heritage but through what Christ did for us on the cross.
As we move through this Lenten season, may the astonishing, overwhelming, and awesome grace of God bring you to Easter so that like those early disciples, we may also stand amazed and awestruck.