Noticings – February 21, 2023


February 21, 2023

You may have ‘noticed’ that this Noticings has come to you on Tuesday instead of its usual Wednesday. It’s because today is Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake Tuesday, and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of the liturgical church season called Lent. I wanted to send this out to get us ready.
Pancake Tuesday also is known as ‘Mardi Gras’ in some places. That literally means ‘fat Tuesday’. Lent has traditionally been seen as a time of fasting and ‘giving things up’, so on the day before Lent (Tuesday) families would try to use up some of the provisions that they would choose not to indulge in during Lent – like fatty things. Hence, the pancakes, which use up those provisions. It’s one last day of ‘feasting’ before the ‘fasting’ of Lent. We don’t tend to follow those traditions anymore, but we do enjoy our Pancake Tuesday! (especially since we haven’t been able to have it for a couple of years due to Covid.)
Then on Ash Wednesday we have the opportunity to gather for a short, contemplative worship service at 7:00 pm. The ‘ashes’ part are a connection to mourning, and dying – which sounds really depressing, but it isn’t. Honest! We also talk about confession, and it takes kind of a solemn tone. Again, not depressing. But it is definitely a different tone than our usual. As a sign of our participating in that confessing and pondering we can receive ashes on our foreheads or wrists. We won’t be livestreaming that service, but I do hope you’ll consider participating, if not in-person then perhaps in this next way.
My big suggestion for you for Lent is for you not to ‘give something up’ but to ‘add’ something to your days. Something spiritual. I’d like you to add…silence! Every day. Just 10 minutes of peaceful, blissful, prayerful, silence (which may feel like an eternity if you’re not used to it). Silence is the purest form of prayer there is. Just you and God – presence meeting presence. If your mind wanders, simply acknowledge that and let it go, and refocus on God’s presence. You may be surprised by what pops into your head – or what you might feel nudged by. This is called a spiritual practice, or a spiritual discipline – and like any discipline one must ‘work’ at it. But that’s who we are. We are ‘disciples’ of Jesus.
So we get to begin with pancakes, and then move into contemplative ashes, and then continue all through Lent with keeping prayerful silence for just 10 minutes per day. The purest form of prayer. To put it simply, silence is the least we can do! (get it?!)
(Click here for a video version of Noticings)
Rev. Larry