Weekly Encouragement: “Happy Shrove Tuesday?”

“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Romans 1:12

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Happy Mardi Gras! Yet, it doesn’t sound right to say “Happy Shrove Tuesday,” does it? To “shrive” is to present oneself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution. Somehow, we’ve let the party atmosphere of Mardi Gras crowd out much of the recognition of our need for forgiveness as the proper pre-Ash Wednesday lead-in to Lent.

If you won’t have the opportunity today to present yourself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution, let me suggest this home-grown way of observing Shrove Tuesday.

Perhaps you watched the closing remarks that Rep. Elijah Cummings (I almost wrote ‘the Rev.’ Elijah Cummings, given the theological content of his sermon-like witness) made at the Michael Cohen hearings, where he stated, repeatedly, “We’re better than this!”

Those words carry great power and great relevance for all of us. We can each take a close look at our lives, our actions, our thoughts, and ask ourselves, “How can I be better than this?” How can I be better than I find myself usually being on any given day of my life?

How can I be a better Christian? How can I be a better family member? How can I be a better parishioner? How can I be a better neighbor? How can I be a better citizen of our city, our state, or nation, and our world? You could do this as an exercise on your own, or share it with a trusted faithful friend.

Give these questions thoughtful, meditative, and prayerful consideration. Take enough time to ponder them deeply. Offer up your reflections to God, and then sit still and listen. Listen for as long as it takes for you to perceive some kind of response. The response may come from within you, or it may come from without. If it doesn’t come at all, that just means you owe yourself a bit more time with the questions, or with the silence.

May God’s Holy Spirit be present with you today, and tomorrow, and throughout the season of Lent.

God’s Peace,

The Rev. Bill Queen
Bridge Rector, St. Paul’s Church