Shrove Tuesday service February 21, 2023
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian Church throughout the world. Shrove Tuesday is a reminder that Christians are entering a season of penance and was originally a solemn day. But over the centuries, in anticipation of the Lenten fast that would begin the next day, Shrove Tuesday took on a festive nature. That is why Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (which is simply French for Fat Tuesday).
Since Ash Wednesday always falls 46 days before Easter Sunday, Shrove Tuesday falls on the 47th day before Easter. (See The 40 Days of Lent and How Is the Date of Easter Calculated?) The earliest date that Shrove Tuesday can fall is February 3; the latest is March 9. Since Shrove Tuesday is the same day as Mardi Gras, you can find the date of Shrove Tuesday in this and future years in When Is Mardi Gras?
The Origin of the Term
Shrove is the past tense of the word shrive, which means to hear a confession, assign penance, and absolve from sin. In the Middle Ages, especially in Northern Europe and England, it became the custom to confess one’s sins on the day before Lent began in order to enter the penitent season in the right spirit.
From the earliest days of Christianity, Lent, the penitential period before Easter, has always been a time of fasting and abstinence. While the Lenten fast today is confined to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence from meat is required only on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the other Fridays of Lent, in previous centuries the fast was quite severe.
Christians abstained from all meat and items that came from animals, including butter, eggs, cheese, and fat. That is why Shrove Tuesday became known as Mardi Gras, the French term for Fat Tuesday. Over time, Mardi Gras extended from a single day to the entire period of Shrovetide, the days from the last Sunday before Lent through Shrove Tuesday.
Fat Tuesday in Other Countries and Cultures
Example: Many Christians celebrate Shrove Tuesday and the coming of Lent, by enjoying pancakes and sausage. In the English-speaking countries, Shrove Tuesday became known as “Pancake Day,” because Christians used up their eggs, butter, and milk to make pancakes and other pastries. In the countries that speak Romance language (languages derived primarily from Latin), Shrovetide is also known as Carnival—literally, “farewell to meat.”
Shrove Tuesday without Ash Wednesday is just another pagan holiday. Tonight, we celebrate life. Tomorrow we will remember both our mortality and sin—and our need to repent of our sins. Remember the ashes tomorrow!
Ash Wednesday services February 22, 2023
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).
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.
Palm Sunday, 2023 (1 service 10 am in Sanctuary) we prepare our souls for resurrection. Resurrection is primarily a changed life in the now so we might enjoy resurrection later. Palm Sunday begins that journey from what is to what should be.
Many believe Biblical Theologians believe there were two entrance parades in Jerusalem that Sunday. Pontius Pilate was entering Jerusalem from the West. He was a violent man and represented the Roman Empire as it dominated the world. It would have been an impressive sight—marching soldiers equipped with the latest weaponry, horse drawn chariots, and Pilate in the front upon his noble stead. He traveled there, at best a two day journey, from the government seat and his villa at Caesarea Philippi. The town was a strong Roman military outpost and seaport. He lived there and only went to Jerusalem when there was potential for conflict. That is exactly why he goes now. He goes to Jerusalem because of the celebration of the Passover. He would not observe the feast, but he wanted to be close if the festival became a demonstration against the Roman government.
The religious power and establishment (Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Lawyers, Temple priests, and the Sanhedrin leaders) would be on the Westside cheering on and celebrating Pilate. IT was Pilate who protected them, kept them in power, and gave them control of the details of local Jewish life. So they want to appease him and make him happy. The Westside is where power enters.
On the Eastside, Jesus enters Jerusalem. This is the Golden Gate and known first as the Gate of Mercy. It sits opposite of the Mount of Olives and above the Kidron Valley. Closed by the Muslims in 810, reopened in 1102 by the Crusaders, Saladin walled up after regaining Jerusalem in 1187. Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt it together with the city walls but walled it up in 1541 and has stayed that way. The reason? On the last days, the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate.
Jesus entrance is a caricature of Pilate’s entrance. Instead of throngs of soldiers, Jesus has a crowd of weak disciples. Jesus rides in on a donkey and not a powerful stallion. Pilate’s entrance is meant to impress with power. Jesus enters Jerusalem humbly.
Jesus’ entrance is intentional. It is not because Jesus could not find a horse or marshal two or three hundred people. By his entry into Jerusalem, he demonstrates that he is a different kind of Messiah than the people expect. He is not going to overthrow the Roman government by political power and physical strength. Jesus rules through love and love’s life-transforming power—transform hearts, souls, and minds. Jesus is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the suffering servant.
The crowd’s actions clearly show that they miss the message. They think that Jesus is the strong, muscle bully Messiah for whom they have been waiting for so long. “Hosanna,” they cry out. “Save us, now!” They are looking for Jesus to exercise his power and cast out the Romans like he has done demons across the highways, by-ways, towns, and villages throughout the country.
Jesus doesn’t stop the people from their carnival and their cries for action. In fact, he tells the religious officials that if the crowd were to become silent, the stones would cry out. Jesus accepts where the people are. He knows that they aren’t perfect, nor do they fully understand what is happening.
This points out an infallible truth. Being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t enable us to immediately “get it.” Following Jesus is a life of learning. The first Christians eventually discovered that Jesus was not going to overthrow the world’s governments. They also came to learn that Jesus wasn’t going to return as quickly as they had first thought. As they walked with Jesus, they began to understand how the Holy Spirit moved and how God ruled in our lives.
We (hopefully) learn the same lessons. There are those times when we want God to wield his power—to heal someone we love immediately, provide for financial relief, reverse our parking ticket, or make sure that our lives are disaster-proof. Over and over again, we learn that this is usually not how the Holy Spirit moves in our world and our lives. Little by little, as we walk with Jesus, we understand that God moves and rules differently than the world’s nations and leaders.
His love for people drives him into conflict with the greedy and corrupt. His passion for the world drives him to the cross. His love does more than confront—it overcomes.
Holy week Meditation :
View Video Meditation by clicking on underlined and blue links
and/or read the written devotion for each day
that will include scripture, devotional and prayer.
Scripture: Mark 11:15-19 CEB
They came into Jerusalem. After entering the temple, he threw out those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. He didn’t allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He taught them, “Hasn’t it been written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you’ve turned it into a hideout for crooks.” The chief priests and legal experts heard this and tried to find a way to destroy him. They regarded him as dangerous because the whole crowd was enthralled at his teaching. When it was evening, Jesus and his disciples went outside the city.
Reflection: Frequently, Jesus intentionally went out of his way to truly see those who were often invisible to the establishment. He saw people, like the Samaritan woman and the little child he invited us to be like. Christ made a point of welcoming those whose presence in the community was forbidden. The bleeding woman and the leper were among those he allowed to touch his divine essence. In the Temple that day, Jesus again saw exclusion. A place of worship, holiness, and community-building had become “a hideout for crooks,” because only some were welcomed while others were kept out, penalized for being foreigners, in transit, and poor. Jesus reminds them, and us, that God calls us to include not exclude. He quotes scripture that says God’s house is to be a house of prayer for all. Jesus’s intervention disrupted their order. His good news exposed the wickedness of their hearts and the sin hidden in their practices that kept people out. Baptismal grace welcomes all to the waters. It demands that we examine our values and stop any action that kills the soul. We are not the ones with authority to determine who is ritually clean and worthy; that is defined by the eternal Love, the same One who turned over the tables. The One who sees all of us and declares: “It is very good!” One has to wonder if the Church is still being a prophetic voice. Are we watching and claiming the Church as a house of prayer for all people? Because God certainly is!
Think about this:
- Who am I excluding today?
- Why has acceptance become the exception and not the norm?
- Am I willing to disrupt the status quo that perpetuates systemic oppression, even if that leads me to question my own value systems and traditions?
- For whom is the Gospel good news?
Prayer: Loving Creator, as I welcome you into my life, I invite the presence of the Holy Spirit to reveal those spaces in my life where I need to be in solidarity with those who have been oppressed and marginalized. As you call me to repent, give me strength and humility to genuinely examine where, in the depths of my soul, my words and actions remain far from you. Show me your mercy, so I can stand before you and be safe. Grant me the courage, so I won’t feel weak when you invite me to be a prophetic voice that denounces the wickedness of the powers to be but announce your Shalom and the hopes of a new and just system for all. In the name of the One who taught.
Scripture: Mark 11:12-14; 20-25 CEB
The next day, after leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. From far away, he noticed a fig tree in leaf, so he went to see if he could
find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing except leaves, since it wasn’t the season for figs. So, he said to it, “No
one will ever again eat your fruit!” His disciples heard this… Early in the morning, as Jesus and his disciples were walking
along, they saw the fig tree withered from the root up. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look how the fig tree you
cursed has dried up.” Jesus responded to them, “Have faith in God! I assure you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the
sea’—and doesn’t waver but believes that what is said will really happen—it will happen. Therefore, I say to you, whatever
you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it, and it will be so for you. And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have
something against anyone, forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your wrongdoings.”
Jesus’ cursing the fig tree is a strange event which elicits questions about what Jesus intended to communicate after he
entered Jerusalem. Mark likes to write using a sandwich approach to convey the passage of time, changing locations and
overall meaning. Jesus saw the fig tree and cursed it for not bearing fruit. Then he went to the Temple and drove out the
money changers. The following morning, Peter pointed to the fig tree again and noticed it had withered.
The barren and withered fig tree and the commerce-oriented Temple are meant to inform each other. In each instance, they
were not living their purpose. Despite displaying lots of leaves, this fig tree bore no fruit. And despite all the activity going on in
the Temple courts, worship and prayer were not the primary focus. Jesus used both instances to teach how important it is to
live on purpose. When the pandemic caused churches to suspend in-person worship and leaders to minister differently, churches found they
needed to re-examine the question of purpose. Discerning and living one’s calling will help guide churches and individuals
through stress and uncertainty. Living on purpose strengthens faith and gives power to our words because they are linked to God’s purpose for us.
The lesson of the fig tree raises the question for us: What does it mean to live on purpose today? Living on purpose comes from
following God’s inner compass.
Purposeful God, we seek to be true to your calling for us today. We want to be about what matters in the world. Guide us and
give us courage to be the people you call us to be, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Scripture: Mark 14:3-9 CEB
Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease. During dinner, a woman came in with a vase made
of alabaster and containing very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke open the vase and poured the perfume on his
head. Some grew angry. They said to each other, “Why waste the perfume? This perfume could have been sold for almost a
year’s pay and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you make trouble for her?
She has done a good thing for me. You always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good
for them. But you won’t always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. I tell
you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.”
All four gospels speak of a woman anointing Jesus. Mark simply calls her “a woman” who owned a jar filled with costly perfume
while Luke calls her a “sinner,” implying sexual immorality. Was she someone of means who could easily afford to waste
such a valuable substance with one extravagant gesture, or was she a woman whose financial situation was precarious but who
nevertheless prodigally anointed Jesus? Either way, when the disciples scolded her, Jesus proclaimed
that her act of generosity would be remembered whenever the gospel was proclaimed. Sarah Ryan and Mary Bosanquet were early Methodist
preachers who were very different from one another. Sarah was an uneducated servant who was “married” three times without
being divorced; Mary was well-read and belonged to a well-todo family. From the Methodists, Sarah discovered that Christ’s
grace was freely offered to her, too, and recognizing God at work in her, John Wesley appointed her housekeeper of the New
Room. Later she mentored the younger Mary Bosanquet, and they formed a household with other Methodist women to nurture and
educate the poorest children of their area. Similar to the disciples, Mary’s family felt her inheritance wasn’t being used
wisely, but with Sarah’s help, Mary continued to pour out her resources freely on others, reflecting in her journal:
I would be given up, both soul and body, to serve the members of Christ. My firm resolution was to be wholly given up to the
church, in any way that he pleased. Ponder this. What treasure do you possess that you want to recklessly share with Christ and with others? How can you
honor Jesus with that which means most to you, despite objections or misunderstandings?
Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, you freely poured out your precious life for us after first joyfully accepting the extravagant offering
of the woman who anointed you with expensive nard. Fill us with your Holy Spirit of generosity so that we, too, may follow
the example set by her and by Mary Bosanquet and Sarah Ryan, giving without counting the cost, being motivated by nothing but
love of you and of neighbor. May it be so! Amen.
John 13:1-17, 34
Jesus Washes His Disciples Feet 1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come
for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The
evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so
he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water
into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to
Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing,
but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you
have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus
answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not
every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean. 12 When
he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for
you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and
Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do
as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one
who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. 34 “A new command I give you: Love
one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” During his last meal with the disciples before his arrest, Jesus
showed he was willing to humble himself and serve those he loved. When the disciples went through the details for the
Passover meal, they neglected to designate someone to wash the feet of those gathered. Therefore, it must have been an awkward
moment when Jesus got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist, and proceeded to wash and dry the feet of his
disciples. True to form, Peter alone spoke out loud his thoughts about the awkward moment. He recognized the humiliation that
his teacher must have felt to crouch down and touch the dirty smelly feet of his students. What’s more, Jesus knew who was
going to betray him, and yet he washed all the disciples’ feet, even the one who would later exchange Jesus’ life for thirty
pieces of silver. Jesus reminded Peter that he didn’t understand what was happening at the moment, but he would soon enough
realize that the foot washing was not the main point. Jesus was still their Teacher and Lord. He was showing them that he was a
different kind of Teacher and Lord. In response to his powerful example, Jesus gave his followers a new commandment- love
one another and show others that you love them by serving them in the same manner that Jesus did. Maundy Thursday is the
celebration of the new commandment that Jesus gave to his followers. It is a new mandate that is not a suggestion, but a
commandment. Love one another. A truly difficult commandment when you realize Jesus didn’t just mean those
that love us back or those that look up to us, but rather those who will scatter at the first difficult moment and those who will
turn their backs on us. Personal Reflection In the last year, how difficult has it been for you to serve others? What gets in the
way of you caring for others? Who is easy for you to show love towards? Who is difficult for you to show love towards? Spend
time praying for the people that are hard to love, not so that God will change them, but rather that God will change your attitude
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray: Lord, as we prepare to enter the mystery of these
three most holy days, we ask you to illumine our minds and hearts with the hope and promise of Christ’s passion, death and
resurrection. Give us eyes to see Him in the breaking of the bread and hearts that reach out to Him in service to one another.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. You call us to be your voices in this world and we stay silent.
You call us to be your hands in this world and we keep them hidden. You call us to be your feet in this world and we go our
own way. When we meet those who are doubting and say nothing, forgive us. When we meet those who need your touch
and do nothing, forgive us. When we are called to take up your cross and carry nothing, forgive us. Breathe life into these bones
bring freedom to these lives that we might declare with heart and soul and voice that you are our Lord and our God.
You call us to live your life, follow where you have trod, be your presence in these streets, show compassion to the poor,
support the weak, embrace the outcast, bring lives into your kingdom. Yet our hearts are troubled, we are fearful of the task, deafened
to your promise to be with us wherever we might go. Forgive our timidity, grant us peace for the journey, and strength for the
day, that we might demonstrate our love in the life we live and share. Amen
Mark 15:20-39 20
And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify
him. The Crucifixion of Jesus 21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his
way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which
means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified
him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified
him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 They crucified two rebels with him,
one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You
who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same
way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t
save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those
crucified with him also heaped insults on him. The Death of Jesus 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three
in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s
calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now
leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain
of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he
died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
In Jesus’ day, crucifixions were public affairs. Much like red carpet events, crucifixions were a cultural moment. Taking place
outside for all to see, the Romans perfected their death penalty. The darkness that blanketed the land was palpable. The Son of
God was crucified on a day that today we call ‘good.’ Surely the last moments of Jesus’ life were not good. Jesus was arrested,
beaten, scourged, mocked, and crucified. The suffering of Jesus is not something we can overlook. What is good about the
crucifixion of Jesus is that it led to the resurrection. We cannot go around the crucifixion, we must go through it. To those
gathered at the foot of the cross, Jesus couldn’t possibly be the Savior. What kind of savior refused to rescue himself? Their
insults and demands for a sign show the marks of human responses to power. If you have the power to save others, why
wouldn’t you start with yourself? The night before, Jesus demonstrated to his followers that having power doesn’t mean
you lord it over others. It means you humble yourself and care for others. Jesus also wasn’t willing to go around the crucifixion.
Instead, he hung on the cross for all to see. We might never fully understand the practice of crucifixion. There was one person
present that day that intimately knew the ins and outs of crucifixion. The centurion who witnessed Jesus’ death knew it
was not a routine crucifixion. Something was different about that day. He boldly declared that the man whose death he
witnessed on the cross was no ordinary person. He was the Son of God.
Pray & Reflect When have you felt like God abandoned you? Pray about those moments where God felt distant.
Maundy Thursday (1 Communion service 5-6 pm ) 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.