Feb 17, 2010
Jesus and Bacon
Ash Wednesday to me is the beginning of Lent; the first day of a forty-day fast in a grossly insufficient attempt to honor Jesus’ sacrifice; a time to recognize my sinfulness, my repentance, my saving grace; a time to contemplate God’s unabashed love for me and pray about what that means for me and my family; a time of hope that ushers in Easter and the awareness that God is forgiving and good and committed to me; and, truthfully, a time of confusion as I wrestle with the necessity of the excruciating pain Jesus endured because of me.
In theology class, I learned that scholars throughout time have argued the requirement of the crucifixion as the means by which we are saved. It is in God’s power to forgive us without Jesus’ blood, without sacrificing his son/himself for us. So why the crucifixion? The reason that stuck with me is this: it was not the only way God could forgive us (he’s God, he can do anything); it was the only way we would receive the message.
Think about it. Humans are beyond imperfect creatures, two sides of a crazy coin. We hate/love, destroy/create, judge/accept. We're vain/humble, ignorant/wise, angry/joyful, numb/alive, stubborn/soft, prideful/meek, evil/good, cowardly/courageous. In a collection of people who can produce Hitler and Mother Teresa in the same breath, how the hell else would we get the message other than the shock of the crucifixion?
I hate it. I don’t understand it. It shames me. But I believe it. Its truthfulness permeates me. Because I know the truth isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, although they’re in there. The truth can be visceral and sharp-edged and hard to swallow. But once you get it down, brother, that’s when the sunshine and rainbows are revealed. That’s when the joy sets in. Because once we accept what God was willing to endure as a man in Jesus and as a father (who among us wouldn’t sacrifice ourselves to save our children) to save us, then we truly feel his love and the peace and forgiveness and grace that it brings.
So in honoring that love, that sacrifice, I’m giving up bacon for Lent. Yes, you read correctly. BACON. “No, Nicole, that’s too much”, you might caution. “It’s dangerous to set the bar so high”, you might plead. But I refuse to heed your warnings as I march into Lent with this sacrificial surrender of the best cured meat ever created. Will God be pleased with my choice? Maybe, because he knows all too well my torrid love affair with bacon and how difficult it will be for me to fast from it for forty days. Maybe he will be ashamed of me because it is so little in honor of so much (but wouldn’t anything I choose be too little)? Maybe he will laugh and say “Well, it’s something”. I like the last option the best. I like to think of God laughing. I’m sure he does plenty of it. Because, seriously, if you could see all and hear all and know all, once you got past the people who made you say, “What in the hell is wrong with that guy”, you would have to laugh at the rest of us.
Blessed Lent to all…have a BLT for me.