Text: Matt 9:14-15, Matt 28:20
I have read it said of our society that we want a continual Fat Tuesday, we want the Carnival to go on without ever needing or ending in Ash Wednesday. That always sounded like an appropriate curmudgeony thing to say – and the Lord knows I enjoy a good curmudgeon.
It might be completely inappropriate, but I can’t get too upset. We served over 60 people last night – about 10 lbs of dry pancake batter, 7 lbs of bacon and about 5 lbs of sausage. A Fat Tuesday indeed. There were 8 people in Ash Wednesday service this morning. The curmedgeon stirs, except for one thing.
Look at the texts I’ve smashed together. Jesus says his disciples will fast when the bridegroom (Jesus) is taken away, but then he says after the resurrection He is with us always. It is not that fasting is not appropriate – as Jesus is away from us, but not fasting is also appropriate – as He is with us always. It is a curious twist in the strange now and not yet overlapping of the old age passing away and the new creation. Lay people get this better than ministers usually if intuitively. The piety (i.e. the rituals and liturgy and prayers) are made for the disciples, not the disciples for piety. Encouragement toward greater piety is often appropriate as it can be a good hedge against the prowling lion. Being in the Word is a good thing. But getting curmudgeony turns it into a law which does no one any good. We are not saved by Ashes or by pancakes, but by Jesus Christ and his work for us.
I can’t help on Ash Wednesday being hopeful that the ashes will one day be resurrected.