Hold everything–I literally just learned that Tuesday, Februrary 13, 2018, is PANCAKE DAY. Ummm, how have I never heard of this holiday that has apparently been celebrated for centuries? Admittedly, I do have maple on the brain these days. So of all the times to discover this amazing day of yum, I guess now–the season of my life that I’m becoming a homemade maple syrup connoisseur–would be a good time.
Okay, I’ll be real. I’ll never be a connoisseur of this miracle called “syrup making.” There’s too much of the miraculous in it, and I’m too full of foibles, to ever get a whole sugaring season perfected. But I’m gonna have a delicious time trying.
Or, I bet you’ll love this amazing family recipe for blueberry maple cake that I shared with Melissa K Norris when she featured me on her Pioneering Today podcast recently.
We all perform our best when we’re under pressure.
The New England temperatures the past few days have been heavenly for sugaring. Just the right hint of spring in the air to get the sap as excited as the rest of us during the sunny days, and yet nights well below freezing, to keep the pressure high in the tree’s veins. And we all know (especially those of us full of foibles), when pressure is high we tend to perform our best. Sap is no exception. When we see promise of spring, the cold difficulties seem surmountable and we press on. So does sap.
So we are boiling the watery, clear, liquid gold until we go to bed at night and starting the fire back up in the morning, letting it boil until we’ve processed the last day or two’s worth of sap. When we have enough ready for the final step, we spend an evening making beautiful auburn-hued liquid sugar.
Sap is a gift to savor.
It’s a glorious thing to stumble into the kitchen and be greeted with the morning sun glowing through jars of sweetness we bottled in the late hours of the night before.
Our homemade maple syrup is a testimony to not only our late-night efforts, but more importantly to God’s grace. Yes, maple syrup is a joyous gift from God that He packages in unassuming trees for us to extract and savor. It reminds us of His goodness after a long, dark, difficult season.
So what is Shrove Tuesday?
But back to what I was saying about pancakes. . . It’s really true. There is a day of pancake celebration. Apparently the day does have a fancy moniker–“Shrove Tuesday.” But the verb “to shrive” is so obscure that it seems most people go for the more delicious sounding name. (In case you’re wondering, to shrive means “to present oneself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution.”)
So even if one does know what “to shrive” means, who would want to think about confessing sins when she could instead just indulge in some gluttony?
From what I’ve gleaned about my new-found reason to celebrate, Shrove Tuesday started in a rather practical way, centuries ago, in England. Apparently rich pancakes were a great meal to have on the last day before Lent. (Well, what the Brits call “pancakes” we on the other side of the pond would call “crepes.”) Indulging in pancakes would use up the last of the “extravagant” foods that the family was giving up in honor of Lent–you know, all those staples that would never be nonexistent on our homestead for even a day–flour, milk, eggs. . .
Why am I thankful I don’t celebrate Shrove Tuesday?
While I’m thankful that I would never intentionally rid our pantry of those wonderful staples of flour, milk, and eggs, I’m even more thankful that I don’t need to set aside certain days and times to go to a priest and list off my sins.
I mean first of all, I would never physically be capable of making an all-exhaustive list. Not even of the sins I’ve committed just this morning. There’s my worry. My pride. My self-pity. My complaining attitude. My stubbornness. And that was before my feet had hit the floor. Once I actually got out of bed, the list multiplied.
But second of all, any priest I would confess to would have committed sins himself. Most likely before he rose his head from his bed that morning as well.
Instead, I celebrate my brokenness.
Instead, I am so thankful that I can live a life of repentance. Really live it. Daily. Not wallow in it. Not even focus on it. But be aware of my sins and my need of my Savior daily.
Because repentance is a wonderful thing when it walks side-by-side, hand-in-hand with faith. Faith in a high priest who truly understands me, yet has never sinned himself…
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4: 15.
You can bet I won’t be doing this today.
No, I won’t be driving to church today, walking through the heavy, old, white doors, carrying a long list with me, sitting down with my pastor, unrolling my bullet points of indecencies, and painstakingly crossing them off as I embarrassingly admit them to my pastor, beseeching forgiveness. (You’re welcome, Pastor Nate.)
Instead, daily, moment by moment even, I enjoy absolution. I have freedom to take my very next step as a forgiven daughter of a perfect King. Because his Son is my High Priest. And He is my Father. And because I have total confidence, and all-encompassing faith, in His perfect life and completed act on the cross, on a hill called Calvary, thousands of years ago.
AW Toser said it well. “Faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.”
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4: 16
Christina Rossetti, a famous British poet, didn’t have the same sense of freedom that I do. As a member of the High Anglican Church, she would have been very familiar with the confession booth on Albany Street in London. But she wrote some sweet little ditties… even one about… wait for it… pancakes! Maybe she penned it one Tuesday in late winter as she was preparing for Lent.
I’m including a little printable of Rossetti’s ditty in case you have a child or grandchild who might like to read, recite, or color it today. I’ll also place it in my subscriber library, where you’ll find lots of great printables for amazing recipes, DIY projects, worksheets for kids, encouraging verses, and eBooks with tasty recipes! If you don’t have your own password, just sign up for my weekly e-newsletter by clicking here (or by typing your email in that box all the way at the end of this post), and I’ll send you the link to the library and your own password right away.
But I am doing this.
I’m linking to the most amazing pancake-related recipe I have ever discovered. (Notice I said “pancake-related.) If you plan on cutting back on decadent food for Lent, this may be your perfect final indulgence. Me, I just have maple syrup on the brain these days, so this cupcake blows my mind. (Yes, I said cupcake.)
Plus, the UK food blogger who shares this amazing recipe for Pancake Cupcakes also gives great insight into Pancake Day (and British “pancakes”), which is kinda fun.
But oh my goodness… Can we just have a moment of silence for the amazingness of these cupcakes! . . .
Never mind. Instead I’m gonna shout out loud, “PANCAKE CUPCAKES!” Pilled high with buttercream frosting and drizzled in–you guessed it–SYRUP. Well, she makes a lemon syrup, but of course, since I have maple syrup on my brain 24/7 these days, I think I’ll make the buttercream icing without the lemon juice and drizzle some maple syrup over the cupcakes.
Heck, maybe we’ll have these babies for breakfast. They are called pancake cupcakes.
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth.” Isaiah 54:4
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