Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Pastors – Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King

Devotion for February 9, 2021 from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King

Dear Saints dressed in glitter and love! 

Carnival is just around the corner. The crazy, wonderful, giddy time when nothing should be taken seriously. Except eating and drinking too much of all the things that aren’t good for you.  

When I was a kid, carnival was the only time in the year when everyone, even the adults, dressed up. (Halloween didn’t arrive in Germany before the mid 1990s.) When we got too many candys and listened to all the funny, funky, sometimes embarrassing songs that everyone knows, everyone claims to dislike, yet everyone will get up and dance to. Like “Macarena” and “Chicken Dance”, just in German. No party without jelly donuts and “musical chairs” and “Freeze dance”.  

All I always wanted was a store-bought princess costume. All I ever got were hand-sewn, beautiful costumes for dressing like a light-rope artist (no one recognized that and I had to tell everyone twice!). Unfortunately, I did not appreciate the work of many nights my mom invested into our costumes back then.  

Shrove Monday and Fat Tuesday are days I only recall by dancing and laughing, even at school. If those days fell into our winter break, there was always a “Ski carnival”. People just wore costumes on top of their winter jackets.  

Like with most things that involve fun and laughter, the church in general had a difficult relationship with Carnival. Until it decided that there is no way people will ever stop celebrating. And so, the church just incorporated it into their liturgical year.  

Rightfully so, because Carnival is such a deeply emotional and spiritual way to celebrate so many things at once: The end of winter, the coming of spring and the eve of Lent. Which in itself functions like a spring in so many people’s lives. When we rethink what’s important. When we do a deep clean through our relationships with ourselves, each other and God by confessing where we have failed and living into the promise of forgiveness and new beginning.  

Carnival is the preparation for Lent. Because recentering and rethinking one’s life needs preparation. And it’s not starting Lent early. It’s living life to the fullest to be ready to take a close look at ourselves. 

Confessions have a lot to do with truth. So does Carnival. It’s the time of the year when everyone is allowed to tell the people in power what they truly think about them. In Carnival speeches harsh critique always has been clothed in jokes and rhymes and a mask that would hide (and protect) the speaker. Because jokes are the “spoon full of sugar” that will help the medicine of truth go down. Together with free candy. And the truth will drive out the evil spirits, the demons that hold us captive most of the time. The fear to speak up, the fear to attract attention, to be different. For a few days, the whole point is to be just that: True, honest, different. To be the self you dream of being. Like being a princess like everyone else. Like for once being like everyone else. So, Carnival could have been my chance. (When I was about 15 my weird costumes started being cool, you just have to wait long enough, I guess.) 

Wishing you a joyful week filled with laughter and truth, jokes and confessions, and with jelly donuts, Pastor Tia!

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