Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Welcome to Shrove Tuesday

Thanks Morguefile.com
It's Shrove Tuesday. Did you know that? (Tweet that!)

I'd never heard of Shrove Tuesday until I moved to Lamar, Colorado, and started attending the First Presbyterian Church there. One day I received a phone call from a lady at the church letting me know I'd been assigned to be a waitress at the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper.

I've been a waitress before. Back in high school. Trust me, this was a brewing disaster. You can read a bit more about my comical experience in my article “Finding God in Shrove Tuesday.” In the end I survived my first Shrove Tuesday and lived to tell about it. I also worked hard to get off the waitress rotation for the annual dinner. But that's another story…

While I was attending the First Presbyterian Church of Lamar, I learned that it was an annual tradition for this church to invite the community in for a pancake supper on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The community of this small town looked forward to it and turned out…every year. It is the biggest event of the year for the Lamar Presbyterian Church. I know what everyone in Lamar is doing this evening. I'm thinking of them!

In the records of the church, we found a document written by generations past. I'm grateful some unknown writer recorded this information for later generations, including me. I copied down what this document had to say. Here it is:

Shrove Tuesday 
From the records of the First Presbyterian Church of Lamar, Colorado.

     Every ancient Jewish holy day had its proper means of making ready, which always involved careful and sometimes lengthy preparation.  As Christianity grew out of Judaism, the early Christian church inherited many of these customs.
     Almost from the beginning, Easter was a season rather than a single day.  Originally, it was a forty-hour observance commemorating the time Jesus spent in the tomb.  At some point, the Easter season was continued from Palm Sunday (a week before Easter) through Pentecost (seven weeks after Easter).  Sometime later, the pre-Easter season was extended to thirty days before Easter Sunday.  Finally, the Nicene Council extended the season to its present forty days.  Pope Gregory I established Ash Wednesday in the sixth century as the beginning day of Easter preparation.  (In calculating the forty days, Sundays are excluded.)
     In ancient Hebrew, the term “forty” was understood to mean “a long time.”  The forty days of the Easter season symbolize the forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai, and the forty days Jesus spent in the desert when He was tempted.
    In early England, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve was called “Lent” from the Anglo-Saxon word “lencthen” meaning “spring” (referring to “new life”.)  “Shrovetide” was an early English period of preparation for Lent.  So Lent prepared for Easter, while Shrovetide prepared for Lent.
     Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which marked the beginning of Lent, was a day for final “shriving” before observing Lent.   “Shriving” is obtaining absolution for oneself by confessing one's sins and dong penance, which is the penalty voluntarily undertaken as an atonement for sin.
     Among the people, Shrove Tuesday came to be known as a final pre-lenten feast to use the remaining morsels of pre-lenten meat, as well as fats and oils in making pancakes and similar fare.  Originally, though, Shrove Tuesday had little to do with feasting, but was concerned with inward spiritual preparation.
     While the Presbyterian Church does not adhere to the Ecclesiastical year, it has become local custom in Lamar to share our pre-lenten preparation with the community through the annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper.  We hope that throughout this season preceding Easter, each of you will take care to prepare your own heart and mind for celebrating the true meaning of Easter—without which, nothing else matters. (Tweet that!)

Enjoy your Shrove Tuesday! The Lenten countdown to Easter starts tomorrow. See you then!

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