From dust you came. They will dance in the streets today, celebrating all things human, raising glasses and shirts for beads and plastic trinkets. They will sway to street jazz, the quintets reminding the masses that no, they are not Saints, and the streets are too packed for marching in. They will love their clarinets and debauchery. Tomorrow there will be regret in New Orleans, but today is Mardi Gras, the pre-fast gorge.
We who live in a quieter humanity—the Midwest to be exact—aren’t so different. Lent is coming so we fill up on that which we will put asunder, the things from which we will fast. Coffee, ice cream, beer—they are all on the lists of my family and friends. Today, we will participate in our own celebration of humanity. We’ll make one last ditch effort to avoid contemplating death, burial, and resurrection. The quiet whispers of tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday silenced.
To dust you shall return.
What if today were an intentional celebration? What if we recall the truth about the lusts of our flesh, the trinkets of our transgressions? How they seem like signs of life, but in reality they are mere gifts in the midst of it. How those gifts ultimately turn on us, leaving us head-ached, over-weight, and limping. How the limp points us ultimately to the need for redemption in Christ, the need to die that we might rise again.
So today, as we scoop our last bowls of Blue Bell, or pour extra tall glasses of coffee and beer, let’s strike up the band and remember our need for redemption. Let’s remember the death that ultimately brings life.
Lent is coming. Amen.