Champagne for Lent

The other day my wife sat bewildered in the car after seeing me walk into a package store and purchase a bottle of champagne.

I told her I plan to open it and share it with her on Valentine’s Day (today) which also happens to be Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. She had no problem with that. I will try to make that day extra special for her. But, I also bought the bubbly stuff in order to make a point. What is that point?

Well first, what is Lent? According to Wikipedia, Lent is the Christian observance beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending 40 days later which is
marked with much prayer, penance, self-denial and
even mortifying of the body in some extreme cases. [1]

I have a lot of memories concerning Lent. I remember
when I was a Roman Catholic being told it is the season
for thinking about Jesus and how He suffered, was beaten,
horribly persecuted and went to trial for my sins. In
other words, therefore, Lent is the reminding spiritually
the passion of Christ which includes His crucifixion and
death.

I also remember being told that Jesus Christ, after His Last Supper, did not eat or drink anything while a prisoner at the hands of the Roman government and the religious leaders of Jerusalem. Because of this, many in the Christian community today observe this season before Easter as a time of denying themselves something.

Many Christians voluntarily refrain, for example, from eating sweets or chocolates. Others stop watching a favorite TV program. Among Catholics, meat items are not eaten on Fridays during this time period.

Anyway, this year, as a Christian, I am determined to do the opposite. I plan to rejoice as much as I can during the days before AND after Easter (okay, Resurrection Sunday). I want to offer praise to God as much as possible – physically, spiritually and emotionally. How? With much music, laughter and fun.

Here are two reasons. . . .

Advent Wreath

First reason: Just a few weeks ago, during the month of December, many of us Christians were involved in the excitement of the Advent season (another Christian tradition) spiritually meditating how God became one of us through Jesus Christ. Many of us decorated our homes with items having festive colors of green, red, gold, and blue – to name a few. Through much struggle against the onslaught of commercialism, we determined to maintain our focus on Christ. We particularly did so by ultimately sharing ourselves alongside family and friends with meals and pleasantries of the season.

But today begins this so-called Lenten season which is observed as a huge contrast to the festivities surrounding Christmas. It is meant to remind me of Christ’s crucifixion.

Sorry, but I rather rejoice at this time and always – rather
than walk around with solemnity and sadness.

Second and main reason: When Christ rose from the dead it was a great victory for God on behalf of mankind. Christ became the pioneer of a new beginning, a new hope, for all of humanity. How? He arose with a new, glorious body. His deceased body, which was about to decompose in a tomb, became alive again. Now His body will never again die; never again suffer. Never again will His life be cut short. Never.

Therefore, why be sad and morose at this time period?! Why not celebrate with joy what Christ did? We were merrily commemorating His days before, during and after His birth, right? Why not be festive regarding the days surrounding Christ’s body being resurrected?

As I was studying Christian history, I began to understand somewhat how asceticism, perhaps a little too much of it, has crept into the church – especially through the influence of the Greek philosophers. I realize there is a great deal of Plato in Christian thought that clashes with the actual hope the early Christians had as they awaited the return of Christ. These thoughts belong to another post.

I now see how religion tends to see man’s human body as evil and wicked –  that it is only a shadow of us becoming spiritual beings in heaven. Yet, the Bible clearly says that the bodies of Adam and Eve, when they were created, were good! But, human flesh, after Adam and Eve fell through disobedience in the garden of Eden, has since been altered and subject to sickness, disease, aging, and death. But, it still, with me, is a wonderful creation by a loving Creator God.

I agree with the Psalmist David who said,

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.(Psalm 134:14 NKJV)

Yes, indeed. And please note: God, in the book of Genesis, did not create spirit beings! He created human beings – living, breathing, flesh-and-blood beings that were different from all other living things previously created.

Question: If alien beings from outer space have arrived on earth and have been living among us, had they been subject to death because of the sin of Adam and Eve? My answer: Very possible. But Adam and Eve’s sin primarily affected mankind on earth (1 Cor. 15:21; Rom. 5:12). It was Lucifer’s  sin that may have had adverse consequences on the universe. In any case, if any alien now on earth accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he will receive a new alien body when Christ returns. What do you think?

So, what happened? Because of man’s sin in the garden, the human body began to be subject to deterioration and death. The human body became a temporary, short-lived organism on the earth.

But, for forty days after rising from the dead, Jesus Christ walked again, in bodily form, among men. He had a new body others could see and feel. He became a new life form. His body became a new creation. It was (and still is) glorious! The disciples who witnessed Him quickly began to understand this could happen to them!

They now began to believe if they die they would rise again – just as Jesus did. I said, began to believe, because it was not until a few days later, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit greatly enlightened the disciples on what the resurrection of Jesus Christ was really all about. They were emboldened with joy and gladness.

But, now, what is it we experience in our age within the Christian community? After observing  Resurrection Sunday (Easter) hardly anything happens! Yes, Christians rejoice at church services for a few days, but afterwards they almost immediately go back to their routine of daily living.

Why is the church mostly quiet and not re-enacting and observing with joyous commemorations the time after Christ arose from His grave to live again on earth? Why not also greatly celebrate this time period leading to Pentecost? Why not acknowledge with thanksgiving a post-Lenten season?

Ash is placed on the foreheads of many Catholics  on Ash Wednesday which reminds them and others that “dust we are and unto dust we shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

The days preceding Christ being risen is marked with too much solemnity in my opinion. Christ is alive and so are we who have been born again through the Holy Spirit – a phenomena which again also officially began to occur since the day of Pentecost among Christ’s disciples.

So, during these days I plan to often start with a better breakfast and end often with a nicer dinner – first with champagne for a couple of evenings and thereafter with wine. I will rejoice and be glad. I just may partake this season with a special dessert or two. I will fancy some ice cream with flavors I personally rarely partake such as cherry or pistachio. I will enjoy the outdoors a little more than average. I will take in an extra movie at a theatre. I will not deny myself anything for religious reasons for the next few days
before Easter (okay, Resurrection Sunday).

I will exercise the body and mind more. I will run, skip and dance to music. I will learn something new. Do something new. Plan a vacation day or two or three. Buy an extra gift for the wife.

Am I saying I should be hedonistic, gluttonous and drunk at any given moment during this time? Of course not! Also, I am NOT encouraging anyone to partake of any alcoholic beverage or eat in a manner that is detrimental to you for medical or conscientious reasons. But I hope you understand the concept I am portraying.

All I am saying is that I will be glad during this time period rather make efforts to refrain from this or that that follows the pattern of much of traditional Christianity.  I am NOT saying we should never fast or pray, okay. But, there is far too much unnecessary focus on the suffering of Christ rather than on the victorious, risen Christ who has a new body which we who believe on Him will also receive.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Note:
[1] “Lent.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent.

 

This entry was posted in Christianity, Christmas, Church, Death, Easter, Fasting, God, Gospel, Growth, Harvest, Heaven, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, Light, Meditation, Praise, Reconciliation, Resurrection, Roman Catholic Church, Salvation, Suffering, Thankfulness, The Church, World Tomorrow and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply