Recently I was laying across the kids’ trampoline in our back yard, pondering what we did with the minions this year for Easter. Our youngest two are teenagers, so gone are the days of hiding Easter eggs around our house & yard so that the kids could search for them like treasure. They are older now, more mature. Not willing to let go of memory-making moments that hold meaning to us as followers of Jesus, or lose the opportunity to invest in my kids’ relationship with God, I decided to try something new. This year the kids hunted Easter-themed geocaches Simon & I hid around the city of Dallas instead of the traditional candy-filled eggs. Each was located at a spot with life-sized art that holds religious significance to us as believers and (I hoped!) would add to their understanding of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them.
On Maundy Thursday we visited the first geocache, which depicted Jesus as the “Divine Servant.” Once the kids located the bronze statue (pictured), we shared with them that Maundy Thursday is the remembrance of the last meal that Jesus shared with His disciples – the Last Supper. As we examined the details of the “Divine Servant,” I opened my Bible app and began reading John 13. It is hard to explain the emotion I experienced as I read the text with this life-sized representation of the very words in front of my eyes. It was powerful. I felt like I was witnessing Jesus’ servant’s heart, live. His humility, in person. His love, in action. And it made me think…
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13
What does my freedom look like to those with whom I share life? Is a servant’s heart displayed in my actions? Does my life more often display His humility or the indulgence of my own flesh (my own desires)? Are my actions spurred by a love that extends beyond myself? In short, does my life add to others’ understanding of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them?
Four years ago we accidentally participated in Fat Tuesday and it has since become a new Smith Family Tradition. Here’s why.
We decided to take the kids out to a favorite local eatery on a whim for dinner one Tuesday night a few years ago. When we arrived, we were greeted by live music, colorful beads and a fun atmosphere. Extended families were gathered around tables pushed together to accommodate their large numbers. There was laughter, storytelling – just family togetherness at it’s finest. The atmosphere was one of celebration and it was infectious! We asked one of the servers what the occasion was and were told that it was Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent began.
Lent we were becoming familiar with.
Fat Tuesday? That was new.
Fat Tuesday, we learned, was a day of feasting. Like Lent, it is not a Biblical celebration, but it does have history within church tradition. In contrast to Lent, however, it focuses on satisfying the lusts of the flesh (specifically food). It serves as “one last hurrah” before the season of Lent begins with its focus on sacrifice in preparation for the celebration of Easter. (You can click here for more details on Fat Tuesday.)
I mentioned last week that observing Lent was new to us. We are still getting our feet wet and exploring Lent within the context of our own family. Since Fat Tuesday added another element to our ever-expanding Easter experience, we wanted to give it a try.
My husband is a fan of redeeming things, so we decided to include Fat Tuesday as one such opportunity for redemption. Instead of focusing on indulging the flesh, however, we set apart Fat Tuesday to focus on the upcoming season of Lent. We talk about the past Lenten season – what worked, what didn’t work. We introduce the devotional* we’ll use to walk through the upcoming season & the reasons we chose it. We share with our kids about the sacrifice(s) we want to make during Lent this year & why we are focusing on them. We discuss possibilities for our “Silent Saturday” activity (future post Easter week!). And we look ahead to how we want to celebrate Easter on the other end of the season. (Getting to enjoy good food in a fun atmosphere on Fat Tuesday is just a bonus!)
Are you planning to participate in the season of preparation we call Lent? I’d love to hear how your family observes this tradition. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.