Easter? Pick me up something.

Can you believe I am saying it is the Easter season? It just seems like we finished Christmas. A week from this Tuesday wraps up Carnival (which means "farewell to meat"), with Mardi Gras (which means "Fat Tuesday"), followed by the day known as Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras Tuesday is also known as Shrove Tuesday. Then we are forty days (plus Sundays) from Easter.

Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday is a day that Christians repented of their sins as they looked toward the celebration of the resurection. It is also a day they entered into a time of fasting and preparation for two things; the celebration of Easter and the coming into the church of new believers. This period was one in which those who had made professions of faith moved toward joining the church. A joyous time on both counts. The idea here is that those who are in the church come along side those who are coming into the church through repentance and faith. Believers remember their joining in to the covenant community.

Today, we commonly receive new members at any time during the year which is good. It helps to get people involved and belonging quickly. What we "give up" is the opportunity for a once a year walking along and grand celebration of new communicants. So what are we to do for the next forty something days? Some thoughts:

1. Pick up something. I think it is hard for people to give up something. (although maybe you will as a spiritual discipline.) By picking up something I mean have a plan to gain something during this time by picking up a book to read or a CD to listen to or a pen (keyboard) to write or the phone to call a friend and re-connect or a few loose coins in your pocket for the poor get the be active in choosing to move forward towards Christ.

2. Remember your baptism. I have spoken of this before, but this is a great season to reflect on your baptism as a child of the covenant. You are part of a long history of people who have been given the sign of God and as a believer you can celebrate that the promise is indeed for you and your children.

3. Reach out to those who are not with us. Those outside. And minister to them. Pray for them intensely and ask them to come and see what you experience in your home, small group, weekend worship or with friends as you live out the Christian life. Be active by picking up a burden for the lost.

So where does this doom and gloom and ashes thing come from? In view of the fact that we will die and our bodies will return to dust, it is good to be mindful that we have a short time here to bless our neighbors as ourselves.