Lent and Holy Week

Shrove Tuesday 2021 will be March 6th 

Shrove, derived from shrive, refers to the confession of sins as a preparation for Lent, a usual practice in Europe in the Middle Ages. Although the day is sometimes still used for self-examination and introspection, Shrove Tuesday eventually acquired the character of a carnival or festival in many places and is often celebrated with parades. As the final day before the austerity and starkness of the Lenten fast (season of giving up something), Shrove Tuesday also has many customs centered around food. Pancakes are traditional in several European countries because eggs, sugar, and fat, commonly forbidden during the Lenten fast, are used up so they will not go to waste; the day is known as Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday in Ireland and many Commonwealth countries. Similarly, creamy pre-Lenten treats, sweet paczki are traditional in Poland, and king cake is an iconic part of Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) in New Orleans. See  also Carnival.

Each year Saint Paul’s UMC will gather for Shrove Tuesday in Berley Hall. We will enjoy pancakes and sausage and great fellowship together. Please come and bring a friend. See Joyful Gatherings page for more details.

Ash Wednesday next year is on Wednesday, March 7, 2021

We will gather twice on Ash Wednesday for prayer and the imposition of Ashes. The first time is at Noon and then at 6 pm.


When did Ash Wednesday begin and why do we celebrate it?

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. Although Ash Wednesday has ancient roots, it does not appear in the rituals of The United Methodist Church or our predecessor denominations until the 20th century. However, the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of Christians to mark the beginning of Lent can be traced at least to the 10th century.

Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ashes are an ancient symbol. In Genesis, we read that God formed human beings out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). After expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the first human beings are told by God, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19 NRSV). The Hebrew word translated dust, is occasionally translated ashes elsewhere. Throughout scripture, ashes are part of rituals when people seek forgiveness and mourn their sin (see Numbers 19:9, 17; Hebrews 9:13; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13, among others).

In earlier centurie

s, ashes were used to mark those who had been separated from the church because of serious sins and were seeking to be re-admitted to the fellowship of the church. In effect, they were redoing the process of final preparation for church membership along with those doing it for the first time. They were sprinkled with ashes and given rough garments to wear as a sign of sorrow for their sins and their commitment to seek renewal in Christian life through this season. Since the tenth century, the observance of Ash Wednesday has become a general rite for all in the church.

In many churches the ashes are made by burning the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. Ashes are placed on the forehead, usually in the sign of a cross, in a ritual known as the Imposition of Ashes. The ash cross on the forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins. As the ashes are placed on the forehead, words such as these are spoken: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” recalling God’s words to Adam in Genesis 3:19, or “Repent, and believe the gospel” recalling the message of both John the Baptist and Jesus (Mark 1:15).

Through the service of ashes on the first day of Lent, we come before God recognizing our humanity, repenting of our sin, and remembering who we are and who we can be.


Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. Find devotionals, activities for families, inspiring stories and information about our faith for the observance of the Lenten seasons.

Friday fish fries. No chocolate. Join a new Bible study.

All these practices have benefits. And all are common Lenten practices. They hint at ways the season of Lent can lead us into more disciplined, focused lives. With that in mind, we offer some other practices that hit at the heart of Lent and excite our spiritual lives.

Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter (note: Sundays don’t count). It is a time of preparation and focus, reminiscent of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he started his public ministry (See Mark 1, Matthew 4, or Luke 4). We believe that Jesus went to the wilderness to set aside the distractions of normal, “worldly” life and focus on God and God’s will for him. So we attempt to do the same during Lent–though often on a slightly less stringent scale.

So check out these four ways you can “enter the wilderness” this Lenten season and find some focus, too.

Holy week lunch:

Dr. Phillips will lead a devotion each day of Holy Week at Noon in Berly Hall. It is BYOB! (Bring your own bologna.) Each person is asked to bring a lunch sandwich (or other) and drink. 30 to 45 minutes total time.

. Title is “A way other than your own.”  We will gather around tables, we will begin with prayer and have a devotion, as we eat.  Followed by a discussion.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is an alternate name for Holy Thursday, the first of the three days of solemn remembrance of the events leading up to and immediately following the crucifixion of Jesus. The English word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “commandment.” As recorded in John’s gospel, on his last night before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34). This is why services on this night generally include the washing of feet (or other acts of physical care) as an integral part of the celebration.

While John’s gospel does not record the institution of the Lord’s Supper among the events of this night, the other gospels do. Christians therefore keep this night with celebration at he Lord’s Table (Holy Communion) and which may or may not include foot washing before the meal.

 Good Friday:

It is a good day. It is the day Jesus gave himself so we might have a new relationship with God.

Friday was the day when Jesus said, “It is finished.”

The work of the cross finished the work of God’s redeeming grace.

We will gather at  Noon for lessons in Scripture and prayer.

Sunrise Service:

Saint Pauls UMC will lead a sunrise gathering at Litchfield by the Sea on Easter morning.

The service will begin at 6:30 am

. Everyone is welcome. Please invited friends and family to be a part.


Easter Services:

We will celebrate Easter in both the Traditional Service at 8:45 am and the Casual Service at 11 am.