We entered the shortest liturgical week of the church year yesterday, the Week of Last Epiphany. (Except of course when Christmas falls on a Monday or a Tuesday, than Advent 4 is is the shortest.) But, yearly, we have these three days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to perform our final preparations for Lent, which arrives on Wednesday. Part of that prep-time is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and church dinners, with masks and decadent food to fatten ourselves for the lean times to come.
A priest friend of mine serving in Oklahoma posted on his roadside church sign: "Pancakes are for breakfast.....Come have Gumbo on Tuesday night instead!" I like that idea. He is having a gumbo contest - in which he refuses to be a judge, a rather smart move on his part. But this idea of a "last" celebration of the community before we dive into the rigors of Lent is an interesting tradition. The idea of "marking" events, "marking" liturgical calendar changes, and doing so in and with our intentional Christian communities, is a way of seeing this "grace and truth" John's Gospel talks about today.
We have "the Prologue" from John's Gospel today and the poetic imagery of the momentary "light" that comes into the world providing us with "grace upon grace.....grace and truth." Jesus' human life on earth was momentary when thought of in the whole panoply of human existence. That life was like that peculiar time at twilight where we are "at the gloaming" moment where there is a special light, and the world looks so different. Just like this grace and truth that Jesus brought to us, while alive, still sparks our imagination and fills our souls with hope and love and yearning. Enjoy these last two days of Epiphany. Let us bring with us this moment we have at the gloaming as we enter Lent. We can let that momentary and spectacular light guide us into reflecting upon the grace and truth of what Lent is all about.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.