Isaiah 51:3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
Tonight the streets of New Orleans will be full of party goers, revelers, and celebrants. People will be singing loudly, joyfully, and drunkenly because Mardi Gras has come to the Big Easy. It’s a remarkable occasion and amazing turnaround for a city that was left devastated and desolate when the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina. What was once a city of destruction has now become a place of re-construction. The people have a right to make merry and be joyful; they have worked hard to rebuild and to restore.
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day always takes on the eve before Lent begins. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday when Christians all over the world are supposed to begin a six week season of penance and sacrifice, humility and contrition. It’s a time to remember that we sin constantly and because of that Christ has to die for us. It’s meant to be a somber time and a quiet month and a half of sobriety, steadfastness, and sanctification.
But Lent is also a time of rebuilding our faith and restoring our confidence in God’s salvation. It’s a wonderful season of redemption and liberation, reconnection and love through Christ. Yes, we all sorrowfully know that we are sinners, but we also rejoice that Jesus is our Savior and that He alone can bring us back to God’s kingdom, favor, and love.
Sin may have wrecked our lives, but Christ can reclaim our souls.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this special time of year, which is celebratory and somber, full of self-reflection and divine compassion. Open our hearts to Your ways and help us to meaningfully prepare ourselves for the passion and the pain, as well as the joy and jubilation of Easter. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest images for Mardi Gras. It’s called “Mardi Gras Masks.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7004/6806639485_cee4d33105_b.jpg