Freerange Friday: Beginning Lent with butter and syrup!

by Lilly Lewin

By Lilly Lewin

This week Freerange Friday is Sacred Saturday depending upon where you live!  I just finished a very long day setting up a sacred space prayer room for the Warmth in Winter Conference here in Nashville. Please pray for the 2000+ jr high and high school students who are here this weekend to MOVE towards Love! Move is our theme. Since I’m in “conference land,” I am posting a Shrove Tuesday article I’ve posted before. It’s great for helping us get ready for the Lenten Season! Lots of ideas to try and encouragement to find some friends and eat pancakes!  And you’ll even find a recipe video link at the end!

It’s hard to believe, but this coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent…now for many of us, we grew up with “Lent” as LINT, you know, something you’d find in the dryer or your belly button, rather than a season of the Church Year.
So if you are new to experiencing the season of Lent, you might be excited to know that we first get to celebrate with pancakes! Yep! I said pancakes, chocolate chip, strawberry and whipped cream, or just plain old flap jacks! This Tuesday, Feb.13th, is Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.

Pancake Tuesday is better known in Britain. In the USA it’s also known as Shrove Tuesday. But we know it mostly as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras…Either way, the Tuesday before Lent is the day of celebration and confession before the fasting of the forty days of Lent begins.

So what is Shrove Tuesday and why should you care? Besides the fact that you get a good excuse to eat pancakes? As the youth pastor at Christ Church Glendale, I became a fan because the youth group helped host the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner each year. But people have been participating in Shrove Tuesday since the Middle Ages.

People would clean out their pantries of all the fat, all the butter, eggs, milk, sugar etc in preparation for the Lenten fast. Pancakes became a good way to eat these things that wouldn’t last through the Lenten season. The word “Shrove” comes from the word “to shrive” to confess and/or hear a confession and thus, be forgiven. So people would seek out forgiveness on Shrove Tuesday so they could begin Lent with a clean slate. Check out a broader history here and here

I like to celebrate Shrove Tuesday because it is a great way to get your family, and/or your community together for fun and an opportunity for a time of confession ( We Protestants are not very good at confession so we need all the help we can get!)

Here are some ideas to help you start a tradition of Shrove Tuesday with your family or Church community:

• Invite some friends over or just gather your family.
• Make up a batch of pancakes (throw some scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage on the menu for those who need more protein than carbs, and add a fruit salad to make it healthy.
• Or if you don’t feel like cooking, go out with your group and have pancakes at Denny’s or IHOP. We’ve actually done this the last few years and had our devotion right in the middle of the restaurant! Last year we met at Fido’s in Nashville because they have amazing gluten free pancakes!

• Before the meal, Take time to celebrate all that God has done in your life so far this year.
Share these things with one another
• Have some cards or post it notes for folks to write down their celebrations and thanksgivings.
• Put post its’ on a poster or on a window making a thank you/celebration stained glass window that you can keep up and add to through the season of Lent.

• After dinner, take time to reflect on what hasn’t been great in your life this year, this month, this week, today…take time to confess these things.
• Have some paper and pens available and take a few minutes to write down and confess your “junk” to Jesus.
• If your group is a “safe” group, ( you know each other well) you might confess your “sins one to another” and then pray for each other.
• Some other tangible ways to do confession
After writing down your sins, the junk that separates you from Jesus, and the burdens weighing you down,
1. burn these confessions in the fireplace or in a fireproof dish
( you can use the ashes from these in your Ash Wednesday gathering to mark foreheads with a cross of ashes)
2. shred them in your paper shredder
3. or lay them in front of a cross.

However you choose to do your confession, actually do it and let God carry the junk, not you! Then celebrate together that Jesus has got this and don’t have to carry it any more!

While you are praying, remember the folks on the gulf coast and in New Orleans, the Mecca of Mardi Gras, who are still in recovery from the hurricane Katrina years later. Pray also for the Houston area and the Islands in Caribbean still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Pray also for other places in the world that see only the party side of Fat Tuesday and not the opportunity to connect with God. Pray also for the places of unrest throughout our world to be healed with God’s peace and reconciliation. (you can even use a map of the world and/or a current newspaper for inspiration as you pray!)
Now if you’re thinking, I wish I’d known about this LAST week, so I’d have some prep time, don’t be frustrated.
Be creative!
I’m a practitioner, not a legalist.
So why not have a pancake dinner, lunch or even breakfast some time in the next week. Doesn’t have to be Tuesday. At thinplace this year, we are celebrating on Sunday night since that is our regular time to gather. Stay at home, or go out like I said before. Whenever you have the pancakes, make it the beginning of your Lenten season either as a family or a group.

And as we are looking at Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent next week, take
today as a great opportunity to consider a Lenten Practice for the next 40 days before Easter.

If you’ve never “celebrated” Lent before, why not give it a go?
And if you grew up with a “sack cloth and ashes” view of Lent, let 2017
be a Lent “reimagined. “ One of my favorite authors, Ed Hayes, says to use the 40 days of Lent as a honeymoon, to fall more in love with Jesus!
My friend and former boss, Roger Foote, used to encourage us to add rather than
subtract during Lent. Rather than giving up something for Lent,
do something you’ve been meaning to do or neglected to do as your Lenten practice.

Rather than just giving up something like chocolate or TV, add something like:
• taking time for silence
• taking time to journal
• taking time to write, call, visit people you’ve lost contact with…..
• practice real Sabbath rest
• practice giving and serving the poor
• add in exercise
• add in more silence, less noise
• add more time with friends and family, less time on social media
• practice…..

you fill in the blank.

Just remember that if you choose to give up something as a part of lent,
like chocolate, or tv, you can participate in this on Sundays during Lent because Sundays are feast days not fast days…
but if you give up cussing, or whining, etc you might neglect this gift of freedom.

Another Practice we do in preparation for Lent is to clean out our refrigerator and pantry. This is something you can do on your own or get the kids involved too. My husband is the cook so we did this together. Take time to clean out the old jars of jam and things hiding in the back. Think about anything that might be hiding in your life, or anything that has expired. Take time to clean the shelves too. If this seems too daunting all at once, do this over the course of a week as practice of slowing down and cleaning out your fridge and your heart!

Look through your cupboards and pantry for food you don’t use or don’t plan to use.
Check the dates on packaging and throw out the expired food and give the rest to your local food pantry/food bank. This is a great practice to do in preparation for Lent. And it’s like the original idea of Shrove Tuesday!
So go find your spatula and buy some syrup…and celebrate a 1000 years of tradition and have a great Pancake Tuesday! And why not choose to fall more in love with Jesus during the weeks before Easter while you’re at it?

Our Lenten prayer kit is ready to go! Download 40DAYS toward Love at
It’s a way to pray each day using Prayer Hearts. There is an edition for person use and one that can be used with church communities.

For recipes and how to videos for Shrove Tuesday!

For more of the history, check out this post from

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