If any of you have ever seen one of the greatest shows ever made, Seinfeld, you'd know that one of his favorite things to say was "Whats the deal..." and would talk about something going on that never made any sense to him. Well, the thing that doesn't make any sense to me is what's going to keep a lot of people out late tonight and in church early tomorrow. Today is Mardi Gras, otherwise known as "Fat Tuesday" and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty day observance of Lent. Part of the Lenten tradition is to give something up as a sacrifice for the forty days. This is intended to be similar to the fasting that Christ endured for forty days while being tempted in the desert. This is something I can understand, and in fact I think it is neat to give up something for forty days and make it a spiritual fast, using the time you would spend say... playing video games, to read your Bible and spend time with the Father. I totally think that's a good idea, fasting is something we may do, would love to do a Bible study on it and the awesome benefit that comes from it.
But what I don't get and it makes me say "What's the deal?" is with the idea that the day before Ash Wednesday, you gorge yourself and get one last party out of your system. Is this really what God intends for us to do when we fast? Have you ever tried to fast for a day? The temptation is there to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet the night before so you won't be hungry. What I don't get is the attitude that it's a day where you can indulge all you want and tomorrow begin the fast. I think this idea of the buffet and Mardi Gras destroys the significance and benefit of fasting. Fasting is supposed to draw you closer to God, but the idea of giving it up after over-indulging just makes it cheap and tawdry. Jesus tells us to not make it a big deal when we fast, but rather that we simply go about our business and not brag. I think this attitude of meekness extends to not over-indulging before or after a time of concentrated focus.
So if you get to school tomorrow and your friends have a little piece of ash on their foreheads, ask them what they gave up for Lent. Invite them to come to Bible study sometime, if they don't attend church regularly invite them to Broadmoor.
Finally, if you're going to give up sweets for Lent, tonight is not the night to eat a whole mega-sized bag of M&Ms; or if you're giving up video games don't stay up all night with the XBox360 on.