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Sharon Kinsey's Blog

When I was growing up, my only memory of Ash Wednesday was seeing some of my friends come to school before Easter with a smudge on their foreheads. I probably asked someone if they could wash it off since it looked kind of messy, and they said absolutely not. When I asked my mother about it, I believe she said that it was something that they did in the Catholic church, but not in our church. And truthfully, I didn’t think much about it until a few years ago.


Since we’ve joined FPCV, the season of Lent has taken on a new meaning. We’ve always loved participating in the Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday. At first, we sat together as a family – all the little ones loved pancakes and we didn’t have to worry about someone telling us they were too loud (to quote a former pastor, “Presbyterians don’t shush children”). It was a wonderful opportunity to gather with our faith family for a time of celebration. Later, Jack and I enjoyed working in the kitchen and things usually ran smoothly (unless we ran out of sausages, or the eggs turned kind of green from the heat of the steam tray).  


Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is a reminder that we are entering a season of penance and was, in the past, a somber day. The word shrove is the past tense of the word shrive which means to go to confession and repent. Over the years it became a more festive occasion. In English-speaking countries, Shrove Tuesday became Pancake Day because Christians used up their rich foods like eggs, butter, and milk in anticipation of the Lenten fast. 


Lent has become for many of us a period of simple living, prayer, and perhaps fasting as we get ready spiritually to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Although in the past, it was on Shrove Tuesday that Christians went to church to confess their sins, today this is usually done on Ash Wednesday. As part of the confession, people are marked on their forehead or hand with ashes in the sign of the cross. We say to children, “Remember that you belong to God and God loves you.” The ashes are a sign that we belong to God, and he made us His forever. It has become a powerful moment for me even though it was not a part of my Christian experience in the past. 


On Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2024, families with young children are welcome to join us at First Presbyterian Church for a special service at 5:30 p.m. We will share what Ash Wednesday is all about in simple terms. We will explain why they might choose to receive ashes. We will look at the baptismal font and remember that Pastor puts a cross on our forehead on that day, also. We live every day under the cross because we belong to Jesus. More information will be forthcoming from Faith Formation. We look forward to sharing these times together.


In closing, here is a prayer that I love for the coming season of Lent. It was written by Ruth Burgess, and shared as part of an Ash Wednesday reflection by Noelle Kirchner, M. Div. Noelle is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian Minister.


Lighter of lights – illumine us

Fire of fires – thaw us

Power of powers – strengthen us

Lover of lovers – warm us

Teller of tales – encourage us

Destroyer of darkness – save us

Touchstone of truth – examine us

Summoner of stars – amaze us

Wellspring of wisdom – weather us

Water of life – refresh us

Dancer of days – delight in us

Breath of the universe – bless us


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