By Sandra Seaborn, Associate Priest
Posted on February 23, 2017
Once a year, we gather as a church and eat breakfast for dinner. On Tuesday, February 28, between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. young and old, newcomers and long-time members will all gather around tables in the Great Hall for a delicious meal of eggs, bacon, pancakes, syrup and fruit. Why? you might ask. Are pancakes in the bible?
Well, no. There was no celebration called “Pancake Supper” in Jesus’ time. Nor are we copying a Jewish tradition set out by Moses. The tradition of gathering to celebrate before Lent is much newer and more contemporary. About 1,000 years into church history, traditions formed to help teach followers of Jesus how to live faithfully. One tradition was to mark the 40 days before Easter as a time of preparation and renewal. This preparation time was set at 40 days, calling to mind both Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before starting his public ministry and Moses and the Israelites' 40 years of wandering in the wilderness before getting to the Promised Land.
One way to prepare is to let go or give up existing patterns to allow new habits and behaviours to form. Fasting, for example, is a form of sacrifice or personal abstinence with a greater purpose in mind. Fasting, along with prayer have deep historical and biblical roots, and these two practices became pillars of Lent over time.
So how do the pancakes fit in? By the sixteenth century Lent had become so formal that eating certain foods during the season was prohibited. As a result, prohibited foods needed to be consumed before Lenten fasting began. Pancakes, with their sugar, butter and eggs were an ideal food to cook that would use up all the prohibited products.
In today’s church we still keep this tradition because gathering as a community to celebrate reminds us of God’s provision and goodness. The Pancake Supper gives us opportunity to grow in friendship as we seek to grow in faith. It is an evening to invite family, friends and neighbours to share a meal (which you don’t have to cook) and speak of God’s abundant grace.
There will be table activities to keep little ones happy, music offered by our youth and friendly company for all who come. The cost is only $8 for adults and $6 for children. Hope to see you there!