Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras

Depending on your tradition, today is a church holiday. Depending on your ethnicity, it is called either Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday. I\’m not Wikipedia here, so will not unpack the differences, although as far as I can tell there ARE differences between the three (i.e. pancake races, royalty crowning, plastic baby Jesus in a cake (!), beads, masks, Jazz music (?), etc).

Shrove Tuesday is probably the most religious of the three, for it refers to confession and receiving absolution for sin. Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, so this is a day to prepare for the Lenten 40 days of penitence, fasting, self reflection and soul work in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Catholics, high church Protestant traditions and Eastern Orthodox consider this day a day people go to confession, a day Christians go and confess their sins to the priest or to God in the presence of a priest who then announces God\’s forgiveness to them (the priest\’s actions here are called shriving).

In contemplative prayer a wee bit earlier Colossians 2 came to mind–I was to read the second chapter of Colossians. I waited until time was up before I grabbed the Bible, so as to not disrupt the time of simply being in God\’s presence (a good rule of thumb while in contemplation). Here is what popped off the page and is what I leave you with:

6-7My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you\’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You\’re deeply rooted in him. You\’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you\’ve been taught. School\’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

8-10Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that\’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don\’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

11-15Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It\’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you\’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it\’s an initiation ritual you\’re after, you\’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ\’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.
–The Message

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