Shrove Tuesday will begin our journey through Lent to Easter! Please join us for the Pancake Supper Tuesday night at 6pm in the Parish Hall. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the Christian ritual of shriving where people confess their sins (privately) and receive absolution for their sins. Shrove Tuesday was the last day of preparation for Lent. It is interesting how this day has changed over time. In the past, because people abstained from eating things like sugar, fat and meat, they feasted on Shrove Tuesday to not waste what would not keep during the 40 days of lent (plus the six Sundays). That is how this day gets its French name Mardi Gras: Fat Tuesday. Today, when I hear Mardi Gras, a vision of parties and over indulgence comes to mind, not the reconciliation of a penitent. It is a curious reminder that the reconciliation of a Penitent or confession of sin was traditionally done on Shrove Tuesday to begin Lent forgiven and healed of our sins, even before Lent begins.
So, I got to thinking … If our sins are already absolved before Lent begins, what is the purpose of Lent? From the discipline of Ignatius Spirituality, Lent is the time to “work on overcoming a temptation that keep us from fully entering into life with Christ”.[i] Isn’t it wonderful that we can enter into the work of Lent absolved, cleansed, and with an open heart? But … It still takes a lot of discipline to be willing to examine ourselves: our motivations and actions. That is why the practice we choose is often called “A Lenten Discipline.”
In reflection, it strikes me that the last two themes in the Sunday Scriptures were the Ten Commandments. However, it makes sense that the best way to enter into Lent is with the gift of God’s guidance leading the way. What if we all prayed the Ten Commandments and then Reflected on them in the Spirit of the Law seeking God’s guidance with grateful hearts for the gift of the Ten Commandments? I wonder what it would be like to incorporate this into the form of practice chosen: Small book study groups, meditating on Scripture with the Lenten reflection booklet, praying with the prayer beads, participating in outreach, or any discipline for that matter. For example: The eighth commandment is “You shall not steal.” The spirit filled way I read this is: I will take only what belongs to me and what is needed – no more, no less. In choosing this particular commandment, I may use the small group book study Christ Walk to search for new understanding in how God is leading me to live into that spirit.
March 1st is Ash Wednesday and we will gather in worship to pray and listen for God’s guidance. If you listen closely, God will reveal what it is that needs attention in your life. March 5th, we will gather on Sunday and begin the liturgy with a litany, that too is intentional in helping us reflect where we fall short of God’s call. Setting aside the feelings of guilt and shame, we may listen for change – a special kind of change – a conversion of heart that opens us and leads us deeper into the realm of God.
Click here for my spirit filled interpretation of the Ten Commandments. I hope you find them helpful. With them are suggestions on how one might live into them more deeply.
May you have a Holy and Reflective Lent.
[i] http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/15261/preparation-for-lent, accessed 2/24/17