On Ash Wednesday, churches hold services where we receive the sign of the cross on our foreheads using ash from palm branches.
Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, immediately precedes the start of Lent.
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Shrove comes from the word ‘shrive’ meaning ‘to confess and receive absolution’ and was intended to be a time of repentance and self-examination in preparation for Lent. As Lent would involve fasting and religious obligations, Shrove Tuesday popularly became associated with cleaning out your pantry of meats, fats, eggs, and milk, and so it became a feast day for indulging and gorging, in France it was known as ‘Fat Tuesday’ or Mardi Gras.
Tomorrow is the start of Lent, the period of forty days in which the Church has historically anticipated and prepared for the great celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. Traditionally, Lent is a time of fasting, reflection, learning and seeking the healing of our desires as we remember both our finitude and our fallenness.
So today, you could make pancakes… or perhaps it would be appropriate to set aside a time for self-examination and repentance?
Or, you could do both.
Recipe for pancakes, with time for reflection.
- 1 cup of flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 tbsp melted butter (plus more for cooking)
- Canadian maple syrup
- Take time to measure each ingredient beforehand (it'll require more washing up, but that will also give you more time for reflection). As you crack, measure and pour each ingredient, pause to reflect on God's goodness in the provision of each of these ingredients while repenting for those times you have taken them for granted.
- Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre, then pour in the cracked egg. Start slowly mixing the egg with a whisk.
- Continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the milk, followed by the water, then the butter, until you have a good pancake batter consistency. Don't worry if its lumpy, in fact, take that as a chance to reflect on God loving us and redeeming us from our imperfection.
- Place a frying pan on a medium heat, then melt in some butter to lightly cover the pan. Pouring 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, then count 30 seconds, acknowledging the sanctification work God is doing within you each day, before turning (read: repenting) to cook the other side for another 30 seconds.
- Continue until all pancakes are cooked (should yield roughly 10), then share both the pancakes and any reflection insights you have had with someone you love.