Thoughts for Sunday 3rd March (last Sunday before Lent) by Mike Oswald.

What is Shrove Tuesday (5th March)? Why pancakes? And what is Ash Wednesday all about? Good Friday (19th April) and Easter Sunday (21st April) are when the church remembers Christ’s death upon a cross and his resurrection. These events are at the very heart of Christian faith, and we prepare our hearts and minds during a period of forty days beforehand. Traditionally, many people also make some outward sign during this period of reflection, such as giving up chocolate. Others, to honour the blood which Jesus gave by dying on the cross, abstain from eating any food from animals, including dairy products. As Lent begins on Wednesday, certain foods, eggs and butter, for example, had to be finished on Tuesday, and pancakes are a good way to do this.

In some areas of Germany this weekend is known as Carnival, ending on Monday. You can find out more at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_in_Germany,_Switzerland_and_Austria

Tuesday is known as Shrove Tuesday. Shrove is from an Old English word referring to the confession of sins – one is ‘shriven’ ready for Lent. See: https://www.whyeaster.com/customs/shrovetuesday.shtml

On Ash Wednesday, we go to church to receive a mark of ashes on our foreheads. These ashes are made from the palm crosses which we were given on Palm Sunday the previous year. Palm Sunday (14th April this year) is the last Sunday before Easter and a few days before Good Friday when Jesus was crucified. Ashes are a traditional sign that we repent for our sins. You can find more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday

Here is a short prayer to help us:

Dear Lord and Father, as we prepare to remember your Son’s death on the cross, may we say sorry for those times when we have let you down and failed to follow his example of love, humility and self-sacrifice. Amen.