24 February 2009

Shrove Tuesday decisions

It seems that with each proceeding year, time seems to pass quicker. Here it is, Shrove Tuesday again.

For much of the Anglican world, that means pancakes. Throughout the UK and the United States, the large majority of parishes/missions will be having a pancake supper at the church this evening.

When I was a kid, at our parish that meant pancake races, waiters in costumes and a really good time. It wasn't a carnival, but it certain had a festive atmosphere.

While much of this festive supper was taking place, our priest would be in the church, sitting in the Sanctuary, back to the altar rail waiting for the flood of parishioners wishing to be shriven. That's where the term "Shrove Tuesday" originated. It comes from shrive which means 1) to hear confessions and pronounce absolution and 2) to receive absolution of one's sins.

Alas, the flood of penitents was never a deluge. It was something between a brook and a creek.

While we ate our pancakes, bacon, sausage, and drank gallons of tea (made with loose tea!), the conversations would always include the phrase "What are you giving up for Lent."

The answers given to that question were always fun to hear: chocolate, smoking, ice cream, spinach, smoking, math, TV, and the best one of all those years -- "my husband."

In the 1980s it became fashionable to "take something up" for Lent. An extra charitable activity, attending Evening Prayer during the week, using the Lenten "poor boxes" we each were given on Quinquagesima Sunday.

I prefer the old ways of giving something up. that's more a "suffering" than working at the local food bank or homeless shelter one day each week.

This year, I shall be giving up Pepsi (in all forms). That may sound very trivial, but for me it is a true sacrifice -- the last thing I want to drink before I transition from morality to immortality is Cherry Pepsi. I'll also be taking up something.

The Church of England has a new programme for Lent this year called Live Life, Live Lent. Unfortunately the programme is in booklet form only and not available for web views. However, there is a Sixteen Facts about Lent page (more for the younger crowd, and an About Lent page from the booklet for our edification.

What are you giving up for Lent? What ever it is, or is not, I wish you all a very holy Lent.

Remember that tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, is the Communion wide day of prayer for Zimbabwe.

The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God Who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lions’ might;
And John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
The herald of Messiah’s Name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;
Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace,
And give us joy to see Thy face.