We gather for a Worship Service in-person at the Chapel (2700 W 14th Street) and on the Zoom platform at 11:00 A.M. on Sunday, February 11th, 2024 – the Last Sunday of Epiphany – Transfiguration Sunday – and Mardi Gras Sunday.
To join us at the Chapel, buzz Zion Church (Bob Bucklew) from the Directory at the front of the 2700 Building on the campus of San Sofia apartments or enter from the accessible ramp from the rear parking lot. When you arrive, call Bob at 216-375-5323 to open the parking lot gate.
The Sunday Bulletin is attached in PDF format. You may use it as a devotional during the week.
Sunday, February 11th – Mardi Gras Sunday: You don’t have to travel to New Orleans to join in the pre-Lenten season celebration. Come worship with the community of Zion Chapel, UCC, and share in wonderful, Jazz-inspired worship…New Orleans style. Following the worship service, all are invited to continue the celebration in The Library – Com-munity Room, sharing in a Fat Tuesday-inspired Potluck Brunch. Wear your purple, green and gold. Beads will be provided.
Upcoming Worship Services & Events:
- Wednesday, February 14th, 2024, OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors) gathers 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Zion UCC Church, 2700 W. 14th, join us for a Valentine Day gathering with speaker John Mahoney, Consumer Affairs Manager, Valentine Day crafts, door prizes, and valentine favors. RSVP for free lunch by phoning 216-310-6810, Beverly.
- Wednesday, February 14th – Ash Wednesday: Worship at 6:30pm – begins the Christian season of Lent. We will spend the coming days journeying with Jesus toward the cross; toward the death that ultimately brings resurrection life. We will come together to acknowledge our sin, to acknowledge our mortality. We come to glimpse the Christ who offers forgiveness, who offers everlasting life. The imposition of ashes will be offered, as a sign of penitence and an acknowledgement of mortality.
The Focus Scripture Reading is Mark 9:2-9
Intro: Transfiguration Sunday is the last Sunday in this season after Epiphany, preparing us for Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday (this year, February 14th). The Transfiguration marks a pivotal point in the Gospel of Mark and is the lesson for both the Revised Common Lectionary and the Narrative Lectionary. The Narrative Lectionary gives some further context: before Mark 8:27, Jesus’ ministry was preaching, teaching, healing, and proclaiming the realm of God on earth as it is in heaven. In 8:27, Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and following Peter’s bold declaration that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus’ message turned toward the cross. Jesus first tells of his upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus said this openly to all who could hear, but Peter took him aside and rebuked him. Jesus, in turn, rebuked Peter, by calling him Satan, a stumbling block fixed on human things and not on the divine. Jesus further instructed the crowd how to be his disciples: to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. It became clear in this moment what it really meant to follow Jesus, and it was also clear the disciples did not fully understand.
Sermon/Reflection: “Mardi Gras on the Mountain of Transfiguration” by the Rev. Scott Rosenstein, based on the reading of Mark 9:2-9.
Other Readings this Sunday – Introductions:
Nehemiah 8:2-3, 5-6, 8-12
The phrase “Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday.” The name is derived from a Christian tradition of eating fatty food on the Tuesday before Lent, in preparation for the Lenten fast from rich, sweet cuisine. Is it ever appropriate for God’s people to enjoy lavish celebrations with rich food? Or are we always to live in frugality and self-denial? Nehemiah 8 provides a surprising answer. The chapter begins after the wall in Jerusalem had been rebuilt, thus guaranteeing the safety and flourishing of the city. The people gathered together in order to celebrate what they had accomplished by God’s power. On that day, Ezra the scribe stood on a tall platform so that he might read the Jewish law to all who had gathered. As he read, learned Levites helped the people understand the meaning of the text . . . an early example of small-group Bible study. When the people heard the law and grasped its meaning, they were struck to the heart and began to weep. But then their leaders did a most surprising thing. They urged the people to stop crying and start partying! Nehemiah told the people to “go now and enjoy rich food and sweet wine, and be certain that you send a share to those who cannot provide for themselves, for this day is holy to YHWH. Let no one be sad, for YHWH’s joy is your strength.” (8:10). The Hebrew phrase translated here as “enjoy rich food” literally reads, “eat the fat” (’ikhlu mashmannim). Nehemiah was, in a sense, urging the people to have a “Fat Tuesday” celebration.
Of course God’s people should also set aside time for repentance and self-denial. We see an example of this in the last verse of Nehemiah 8, as well as in the whole of Nehemiah 9. It would be wrong to conclude from Nehemiah 8:10 that godly life should always be a party. But there is a time to celebrate, to enjoy the good things of life. Notice that the celebration in Nehemiah 8 took into account those “those who cannot provide for themselves” (8:10). The people who were blessed with the resources to throw a big party were to share with those who lacked such resources. As God’s people, we are always called to be generous with those who are poor, even and especially in our celebrations. Notice also the rationale for the party: “For this day is holy to YHWH. Let no one be sad, for YHWH’s joy is your strength.” (8:10). In our tradition, holiness is usually associated with somberness and seriousness. This isn’t wrong, but it can lead to a lack of balance in our experience of God. Sometimes on a sacred day, it is absolutely right to celebrate and to experience the joy of God.
Please join us this Mardi Gras Sunday to give thanks to God in-person at Zion Chapel or via the Zoom platform.
Mardi Gras Blessing,
Pastor Scott Rosenstein
216-273-7561 – church
216-577-1514 – mobile
Bulletin Cover Image:
Mardi Gras art: Jester Mask
Stushie Art, 2015
Church bulletin covers and other unique crayon and digital worship art by artist Stushie, a Scottish pastor ministering in East Tennessee.