Let's Confess
Mardi Gras
5 March 2019
Mardi Gras is in full swing in New Orleans today. Mardi Gras means "greasy Tuesday." Traditionally, it was called this because the day before Ash Wednesday was the day on which pantries and larders were cleaned out in preparation for the Lenten fasts. Food cooked in fat could be consumed for the last time today. In Ontario where I was raised, today is called Pancake Tuesday, again harking back to the last use of fat in cooking.
The church knows Mardi Gras Day not so much for its dietary excesses but as the doorway to Lent. It was a day of preparation that included being "shriven." The word comes from Old English, meaning to confess and receive holy absolution. This is why it was called Shrove Tuesday. While it is not a requirement to be shriven, yet the day before Lent starts is a good time for self-examination, repentance and receiving holy absolution. Confession and absolution is part of the Christian church's regular practice not just on Shrove Tuesday, but every day.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

  Augsburg Confession
"The custom has been retained among us of not administering the sacrament to those who have not previously been examined and absolved. At the same time the people are carefully instructed concerning the consolation of the Word of absolution so that they may esteem absolution as a great and precious thing. It is not the voice or word of the man who speaks it, but it is the Word of God, who forgives sin, for it is spoken in God's stead and by God's command. We teach with great diligence about this command and power of keys and how comforting and necessary it is for terrified consciences. We also teach that God requires us to believe this absolution as much as if we heard God's voice from heaven, that we should joyfully comfort ourselves with absolution, and that we should know that through such faith we obtain forgiveness of sins."

Augsburg Confession, 25.1-4
Psalm 99:1-5

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he! (ESV)
Father of mercies and God of all consolation, come to the aid of Your people, turning us from our sin to live for You alone. Give us the power of your Holy Spirit that we may attend to Your Word, confess our sins, receive Your forgiveness, and grow into the fullness of Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Redeemer. Amen.
For Ash Wednesday worship tomorrow, that the people of God might be called to repentance and receive the absolution commanded by Christ
For deliverance from temptation, that those in peril of sin would be called to faithful repentance
For those who are addicted and slaves to drugs or alcohol, that they would be freed
For the safety of military personnel stationed throughout the world, that the holy angels would guard and keep them
Art: RAFFAELLO Sanzio  The Transfiguration (1518-20)

Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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