Pancakes and Coffee
On the way to 5 Senses to Prayer Book 2 - #22
Lent is just around the corner. It begins next Wednesday. Lent is an ancient festival, likely dating all the way back to the early centuries after the death and resurrection of Jesus. It became an official season at the Council of Nicea in 325CE.
Like most Christian festivals, the way they are celebrated differs between countries, denominations, churches and individuals. Strict observances are less adhered to in my cultural experiences. In my ministry, practice and writing, I love to nod to the past and reflect in ways that are meaningful in the present. There is something about rituals and practices that keep us grounded. In the space we can find and appreciate wonder.
Traditionally there are three parts to observing Lent
Fasting and Self-denial
It’s a season to be serious and reflective and to focus on God, to personally dig deeper in prayer and study. It’s also season of going without and giving to others.
In some traditions, the day before Lent begins is known as Shrove Tuesday. The word ‘shrove’ is old English coming from the word ‘shriven’ which means ‘forgiven’. In the United Kingdom, Shrove Tuesday became known as Pancake Day. In the past people used up their eggs and butter before Lent began, ready to fast for the next 40 days. Nowadays the pancakes are served but fasting takes many forms including fasts from a specific food (chocolate) or technology (no playing games on the mobile phone).
Pancake Day was not a tradition in my country and while I can remember attending Ash Wednesday church services, I don’t ever recall hearing about Shrove Tuesday ore celebrating it in anway. Of course my younger self always enjoyed engaging in sensory activities so when I first read about Shrove Tuesday traditions in the UK, about thirty years ago, we started holding pancake breakfasts with our church. It was a novelty experience for all. Most people who came also hadn’t heard of this pre-Lent practice involving pancakes. It intrigues me how creativity flows. Several different people get the same creative idea and before long new practices spread to others. As our global awareness has expanded and we are more readily able to find out about practices and rituals from other countries and cultures, we incorporate them into our ow traditions. Pancake suppers and breakfasts are now far more common across many churches and groups in Aotearoa.
My pancake prayer below isn’t exactly a Shrove Tuesday prayer, but if you’re making pancakes this coming Tuesday, I offer this as a prayer for you.
There are other ways to mark the start of Lent and I’d love to hear in the comments the traditions you observe, whether they’re personal to you or something your faith community encourages. One of my current favourites is to celebrate the day before Lent as a ‘leftovers day’, making a meal using only ingredients in opened packets from the cupboard or the fridge.
The second prayer is complementary to Pancakes. If my pancakes are being served with maple syrup then a cup of coffee seems an appropriate accompaniment. Coffee, like other commodities is grown in some of the poorest places in the world. This prayer has a focus on fairness for growers and producers of coffee and invites us to reflect on taking notice of where our food comes from and our responsibility to the people and our planet in making choices about what we buy to eat and drink. Again, not written for Lent specifically, but invites us to reflect as we enter this period of prayerful reflection. One practice that has been in our toolkit is in thinking of denying ourselves chocolate, coffee, tea or something similar, to find out more about where these things come from and a way to offer financial support (from the money saved in not buying coffees) to help growers and producers.
I’ll be sending weekly emails throughout Lent with a couple of prayers encouraging us to think and respond to God at work in our world.
On the journey
Sense of Taste – Intercession (I.TA.6)
Cook your own pancake. As you cook your pancake in the pan, consider the way pancakes are flat and round and evenly cooked all over. In the places we live, things are not flat and evenly cooked. There is not an even distribution to cover basic life necessities. Opportunities are not available for all. People make it hard for other people. God however, loves us all. God’s love is pancake flat, reaching to the far corners of the world and covering everyone. Pray for the injustices in our society, for the bumps and lumps that appear. Pour syrup over your pancakes before you eat them. Pray to God asking for guidance as to who you could help and how you could help them.
Further suggestions and adaptations on using this prayer
Set up a hot plate with frying pan at the prayer station and have a bottle of prepared pancake mix for participants to pour their batter into the frying pan and cook their own pancake. Include paper plates, napkins, cutlery and maple syrup or other toppings at the station. You may like to set up small café tables where participants can sit and eat and pray at the station or provide instruction as to where they take their pancake to eat it. You’ll also need to provide instruction on how you require the station left for the next person. Depending on your group you may want to provide some supervision at the station for use of the hot plate.
Use this prayer at the start of your day while you’re making yourself breakfast. Invite others to join you and share the prayer with them.
Host a small pancake dessert evening or breakfast and introduce the prayer. Invite participants to cook their own pancake or have the pancakes pre-cooked for ease. Introduce the prayer and invite conversation around the topic before praying together.
Have several volunteers pre-cook pancakes and keep them warm for the set time in your gathering. When you are ready to pray, ask volunteers to hand out a pancake to each person, on a paper plate, pre-drizzled with a little syrup. Hand out cutlery to each participant and invite them to pray the prayer as they receive their pancake. You may want to project images of justice and inequality around your own neighbourhood, city or country.
Visual Images - Static, Projected, Live Props
· Social justice issues of inequality
· Pancakes being mixed, cooked, stacked and eaten
Getting ready checklist
· Pancake mix or recipe and ingredients
· Griddle, frying pan or hot plate