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Let's talk about the Season of Lent:

What is Shrove Tuesday? 

Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Traditionally during Lent, Christians would give up rich, tasty foods such as butter, eggs, sugar and fat. Shrove Tuesday was the last chance to eat them – and what better way to do so than with a fried delicious pancake! (Lakeview folks will be flipping pancakes for you this year!)

Come to Lakeview on Tuesday, February 21 at 5:30 p.m. - a donation at the door is all you need to bring!

In other countries, Shrove Tuesday has different names. In Germany, for example, it’s called ‘Fastnacht’ (meaning ‘Eve of the Fast’) and in Iceland it’s called ‘Sprengidagur’ (meaning ‘Bursting Day’). In France and Latin America, the festival is called ‘Mardi Gras’, from the phrase meaning ‘Fat Tuesday’. 

Let’s also be honest - January and February are hard, cold months, and coming out for a gathering with community to eat a simple meal is wonderful for one’s heart.  We hope to see you out on Tuesday for Pancakes. Cheryl and I went shopping and have plenty of food to serve you!

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, the 40 days that lead up to Easter.  If you count, you will count 47 days, and this is because each Sunday in Lent is not counted as part of Lent. Sundays are mini Easters, with the telling of the Good news! This first day of Lent and the following liturgical season are marked with an opportunity for Christians to reflect.

While there is no mention of Ash Wednesday in the Bible, the Hebrew texts speak of acts of repentance or mourning accompanied by symbolic ash and sackcloth.

Why do we put ashes on our foreheads?

Ashes are a biblical reminder of our mortality: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). 

It is more than just ashes - what must we say good bye to? 

Is there something is your life that could go, past mistakes, grudges still held, areas that forgiveness could be brought into? Forgiveness is not saying that what happened was right - that is reconciliation and in areas of abuse, we do not do this - but forgiveness is within your own heart, letting go of the pain you have held onto. 

This service is also an opportunity to ritually give up past reminders that cause you stress.  The spreading of ashes on foreheads is a visible reminder. A reminder of our freedom. 

It is also true that we live in a death denying, grief illiterate society. We are afraid to talk about death and we shield our children from it. So when it happens we really feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. Facing areas that we are afraid of leads to freedom and peace. Who doesn’t want that? Nothing at this service is public - it is all done privately within your own heart and mind. 

Where do we get these ashes from? 

Do you remember the palm fronds from Palm Sunday in 2022? I kept some of them and  have dried them out out  in my office for the last year. These are burnt into ashes for Imposition of Ash service.   When I was a newbie pastor, I actually put the dry palms in a loaf pan at the back door of my house.  When the palms would not light, I added a wee (?!) bit of accelerant. Soon I burned a loaf pan size hole right through the carpet and into the linoleum, set off the fire alarm and still did not have ashes! That year I asked a neighbour with a fireplace for some ash. Lesson well learned. I will be burning the palms outside this year! At least I did not do what one desperate pastor did - she used photocopier ink…very black and very permanent. So the Ash is mixed with a drop of olive oil to make a paste like substance. My first year, I added a fair bit of olive oil. Imagine my surprise when I turned to look at the congregation and they all had ash crosses sliding down their noses!  Thankfully I now have 28 years of experience and I promise you a wonderfully meaningful experience at the service of Imposition of Ashes! 

What are you giving up for Lent?

In years gone by, Lent was a serious time of sacrifice remembering the sacrifice of Jesus. Lent has become commercialized and sometimes a contest about giving up wine, or chocolate…not really a sacrifice.