I’m going to try posting again, see how it goes. What better time for renewal than Lent, after all that is what the season is about. No promises, but here goes.
Tomorrow is the first day of pre-Lent in the Eastern church (or today is, depending on your point of view). We call this Meatfare Sunday and, for those who follow tradition, it is the last day when we eat meat until Pascha (Easter). Just what entails meat differs depending on which of the different Eastern churches you hail from (no, we’re not all 100% the same like RC’s). For some meat involves anything that walks the ground or flies in the air; for others creatures that swim in the seas are included; others make exception for shelled creatures (shrimp, mollusks, and, yes, even insects). To understand why would entail looking deep into the cultures from which they hailed. But that is irrelevant to this post, so I won’t get into them.
Giving up meat for Lent is more than just “something we do” because of Tradition. Food is an important part of life itself, not just physical existence, but life: community, fellowship. Think about every way that food is a part of your life: the wedding feast, birthdays, baptism. At weddings rice is thrown at the couple as a wish that they may never know hunger. When someone new moves into your neighborhood you take something over to welcome them. Even in the Bible food is the center point of everything, from Adam and Eve and the Trees of Life and Knowledge to the Last Supper, food is there. Nothing in our lives is more important than food – except God. During Lent we abandon that which we love as-much-as/for life itself, we do this to show God that nothing in our lives, not even life itself, is as important to us as is He. Today, at dinner, when we take that last morsel of meat until we celebrate the Rising of Our Lord and Savior we do so with the understanding that we surrender this delicacy for the sweet promise of salvation, of the Grand Feast that we will share with Our Lord at his Rising on Paschal Sunday.
Today, in the Lenten schedule, is also known as Judgement Sunday, for it recalls the Final Judgement that awaits us all, but not just the judgement, but Love also, the love that God will show us all during that Judgement. For surely none of us, from the lowliest sinner to the greatest Saint, is worthy of being welcomed into His Kingdom. No one can boast that the lives they have led are worthy of entering into the Kingdom without the great amount of grace and forgiveness that He will show us.
Judgement: to discern a person’s guilt or innocence.
Love: an intense feeling of affection towards another.
God asks us not to judge each other, but, rather, to love them. God will judge because He is capable of doing something we are not: to Judge with Love. We love to judge other people by our own standards, or what we believe to be the standards of someone higher in authority than ourselves (God will get you for that; just wait until you stand before God for that!). People judge others based on their race, their sexual orientation, their political affiliation (man, the hate in our world over that one!), their religion. More people have been put to death over those things than in all of wars for which we have numbers. Wars have been fought because “our Religion is righter than theirs!”
This Sunday we are asked not just to consider how we will be judged, but how have we judged others. Are we so sinless that we have the right to tell someone else that they are wrong? If a person’s greatest “sin” is their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc., then I am in deep trouble in comparison, for I am guilty of more/greater sins than those. One of our greatest hymns is Amazing Grace, written by a former slave trader and libertine, telling of his conversion, of his turning around of his sinful habits to a life of love due to the Amazing Grace which was bestowed upon him. May His Grace come to all of us during this Lenten season that we may not judge, lest we be judged; that the greatest sin we are guilty of is that we showed His Love where others would not.