If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:1-11
Today is the last day of Epiphany and is called Shrove Tuesday, taken from the old English 'shrive' or to confess one's sins. It is an Anglican tradition that we eat pancakes, to get rid of the fat and eggs before Lent, and many places engage in pancake races and other fun games. This day is also called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, again when the fat is consumed in preparation for the more austere and penitential season that begins tomorrow. We give up the indulgences of the flesh in order to draw closer to God.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians talk about having no confidence in the flesh and relying completely on the love of Christ. We are reminded how easily the things of the flesh can consume us and keep us away from deepening our relationship with God. We are invited today to celebrate the abundance of gifts that we have today, preparing our hearts and minds to go deeper in relationship with God during the coming season.
Today as we celebrate together, may we remember those who cannot celebrate and know no abundance. May we reach out in love this day and always, sharing God's abundance and blessings with those in need around us. And may we be willing to give up so that others may thrive, to suffer so that others might know some ease, and let go so that others might find a loving hand.