Being Mardi Gras, you knew I’d have to make some type of comment.
The celebration of Mardi Gras or Carnival as it is sometimes called is marked by parades, lots of food and alcohol and of course outrageous behavior. It is, as you know, a celebration of the flesh allowing everyone to “go out with a bang, not a whimper” before Lent begins. But how many really focus on Lent?
In New Orleans, at least when I lived in Louisiana, the final parade through the French Quarter was called the “Police Parade.” Two police cars drove slowly through the quarter, side by side with a loudspeaker announcing that Mardi Gras was over and everyone was to return home. The police cars were followed by two water trucks, which sprayed the street, followed by two street cleaners. This acted as the official dividing line between the time for celebration and the beginning of Lent.
Lent is a kind of “time out” to prepare for the Easter season. While Easter isn’t quite the commercial success of Christmas, theologically and philosophically it actually eclipses Christmas. Here is the celebration of the redemption of all by a loving and caring God through his son. Christmas was Christ’s arrival; Easter is His victory. Lent can be looked at as a sort of training season; we take stock, try to eliminate some of our shortcomings and try to make ourselves just a little better.
So enjoy Mardi Gras. Toss or beg for some beads. Eat that last piece of King Cake.
Tomorrow we get serious.