Yesterday was a big day with plenty of big names....Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday and coincidentally, Super Tuesday. I won't confess whether I spent more time pondering the results of the US primaries or preparing pancakes.
Last year I wrote about the Polish Fat Tuesday treat called Paczki. These rich yeast donuts were made before Lent to use up the fat, eggs, sugar and fruit in the house.
There is a wonderful European bakery near our home that is famous for Paczki. We went early to pick out a few of each flavour. They are very large and a half is equivalent to an average donut. (I cut them in half after I took the picture below.)
I hardly know anyone who does not enjoy an excuse to overindulge from time to time. On the other hand, I hardly know anyone who takes the Lenten fast seriously. When I was in school, some of my Roman Catholic friends would talk about what they were giving up for Lent. I thought it was an absurd notion. Who would want to be like the devout village mayor, Compe Paul de Reynaud in the movie Chocolat?
I went to the local Lutheran bookstore yesterday and purchased a small book of Lenten devotions. While Lent has no Biblical precedence, forty days of self-denial was practiced by Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Spiritual disciplines are hardly recognized in our society. Our self-sufficiency and abundance has the potential to dull our senses to anything beyond our pursuit of comfort and pleasure. Self-denial can produce self-centred, self-righteous actions that are not pleasing to God. Isaiah describes the result to true fasting, a look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. It is time to move away from Fat Tuesday.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?