Today is Shrove Tuesday, or if you prefer Pancake Day, this is the day when we prepare ourselves and possibly our kitchens, for our lentern fast. Hence the pancakes, as we consume all the good things we have before starting our fast on Ash Wednesday. There are many traditions around the whole Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent concept. For me it is all about preparation for Easter of seeking to deepen my relationship with God, and to have a fuller understanding of my other relationships, of my place in the world.
In more practical terms it means a bit of self denial, Self Control is one of the fruits of the Spirit and it is good to exercise it every now and then. For a number of years I have been in the habit of giving up booze for Lent, this is partly an act of self denial, on opportunity to reflect on what is truly important to me, and also to assess the nature of my relationship with booze. I do worry about who is in control of this relationship, is it the booze or is it me, this period of self control is a way of affirming that I am in control of the booze not the other way around.
Last year I looked at my diary and decided that I had too many events at which I would, be expected and would want to drink at that I so I forwent my usual fast. Yet again this year I have concerts, dinner dates, and parties I should be at, I know I will want a drink at these, so I have a choice to fast and maybe set myself up to fail, and give me something else t beat myself up about, or not fast and admit failure before I even start. Having said all that I have had it pointed out to me that this is not a religious practise, i.e. it is not something I have to do to ensure entry into the kingdom of God ~ that is down to faith. Also that many Christians of different denominations have different ways of fasting at Lent, so I have decided that this year I will be fasting during the week but allowing myself a social drink at weekends. I suspect that this will still be difficult, but then that is part of the point, at some level i feel that a fast needs to be sacrificial.
However after this I do not intend to write any more about it, I will not be broadcasting my fast, or making it too obvious, after all Jesus said "When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you".