We are in the countdown for beginning Lent tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. In some places, even today, there are people eating pancakes for supper. For some of the world, today and tonight will be Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) and Carnival. It will be feasting, reveling, and over-indulging in a way that does not have the understanding of wholeness that comes with Shrove Tuesday. The two celebrations come from two different traditions.
The word ‘shrove’ is the past tense of shrive and means to free from guilt. I have a mental image of water coming down and washing us clean, washing away all those actions, thoughts, and words that have gotten in the way of us being the loving, compassionate people who live in peace. This is a different image than the drunken revelry of Mardi Gras.
In previous years, people who were serious about fasting and keeping Lent by observing stricter diets, would try to get temptation out of the way in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. They’d bake cakes and pancakes. Tuesday, they would gather in communities and eat together. In some churches even today, this is the time for pancake suppers.
One of our youth asked me ten days ago if we were have a pancake supper. Unfortunately, we had not planned it. She was so disappointed. And, that made me think about what we are as a church community to the people who gather here. She loves to be here. She comes every time the doors are open. This is not a chore to her; it is a delight.
I am reading a book The Hidden Lives of Churches. Israel Galindo says that there should be a difference between the church as a community and the people outside the church. If we are doing things right, the church is different in a whole and life-giving way. There have been a lot of bad examples of Christians and churches in recent years. We need more good examples.
As people who want to live fully, enjoying this life that God gave us, what do we need to shed today in order to be whole and healthy, in order to be a loving community where people just want to come and take part? And, once they come, they want to stay?
I hope you take the opportunity in Lent to reflect on your life and our lives together, and in this forty day journey, take time to draw closer to God. Get to know God better. Get to know yourself better.
Celebrate the life you have been given.
And tonight, enjoy your pancakes or whatever else you choose to have. I had mine for breakfast while playing Taize music.
May Lent be a journey of wholeness for you and a time of blessing.