“And so the lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion, his praises in Jerusalem, when multitudes gather together and kingdoms come to worship the Lord” Psalm 102:21-22 NLT
We thrive on celebrations at Thorntonville. When the kids were small, I had a book that gave a reason to celebrate for every day of the year. It was overkill. On days when skies were gray and we just needed a little bit of happy, though, that book came in randomly helpful (I mean who doesn’t want to celebrate Donut Day.).
This week we have some celebrations. We started today with the Chinese New Year, which at our house means Chinese take out for dinner. Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday which will include pecan waffles and sausage for dinner with a side of fruit. Then on Sunday, Valentines makes our hearts beat giddy with our annual family Fondue night.
In the middle of all this there is another celebration. We don’t think of it as one, but it really is. Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season. We won’t have special food that night. We will talk about words like repentance, forgiveness, and sin. We will have a time of prayer and place ashes on our head, remembering the importance of confession and laying our sins at the feet of our Savior. We will pray for pure hearts and spirits that ache for the things that Christ aches for. We will deepen our worship through spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, prayer and additional scripture readings.
It’s not a celebration with balloons and fun food, but it is still a celebration. For forty days we recognize God’s goodness and give thanks through humility, slowing down to deepen our hearts for a better understanding of his grace in preparation of the victory celebration on Easter morning (There will be special food then.).
Our God is a God of celebration. In fact, he established mandatory celebrations with the Israelites (Exodus 23: 14-17). Jesus’ first miracle was even at a celebration of marriage in Cana (John 2). With these celebrations were great feasts and dancing. It’s hard to recognize the somber Lenten season as a party. However, it is a celebration of worship in which we are reminded of gifts different than dancing and feasts. Humility, grace through forgiveness, the importance of confessing our sins and stepping past confession into repentance by saying, “God, I don’t want to do it my way anymore. I choose you.” are the gifts Lent offers.
If Lent is something your family celebrates, I challenge you to make your Lenten commitments in areas that will grow you closer to Christ. Maybe getting up thirty minutes earlier to read deeper into scripture or picking a project in which your family can volunteer together. Take the opportunity to talk to your kids about the glory of forgiveness and the opportunity to confess sins. Celebrate humbly by giving God thanksgiving and honor for who He truly is. The gracious God of mercy. The understanding God of compassion. The Sovereign God of love. Pure worship of a pure God. Celebration.