Pastoral Post 3.3.2017

Another amazing, thrilling, successful Pancake Day is in the history books of FUMC! From early morning until evening they came, hungry and anxious for those favorite buttermilks or buckwheats. And they were served by hundreds of smiling FUMC folk.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thinking it broke some kind of attendance record. At the peak, around 6:00 or a bit later, I’m told the line went all the way down the hall, then up the hall past my office. That’s a long line! I wish we had some way of knowing a number.

It will take some time, of course, to make sure all the bills are paid and all the ticket sales are turned in, before we can name a number for profit purposes. In the meantime, regardless of any money raised, we know it was a hugely successful event that involved a large number of our people serving a large number of people from the community. That makes a success story, even if there is no monetary profit!

Many thanks to the Pancake Committee that puts in much pre-planning, and, on Pancake Day, many, many hours, from pre-dawn to evening cleanup. We simply could not do this without their commitment, dedication, and hard, hard work. And many thanks to every volunteer, because  every one is needed to make this day work. Sixty years and counting…..what a tradition!

I was glad that Pancake Day fell this year on Fat or Shrove Tuesday. My understanding is that, in the early years, it was held on Fat Tuesday each year, but since its date fluctuates, they  at some point opted to do it the fourth Tuesday in February each year. Anyway, as some know, pancakes are a traditional dish on Fat Tuesday, a day when all the fat in the house is used to make way for the meatless season of Lent.

I’m not sure how many went meatless yesterday on Ash Wednesday, but we did have 100 or so folks make their way through the rain, despite no Wonderful Wednesday meal, for the Ash Wednesday service. Susan reminded us to be observant in our Lenten disciplines, and we each came to the altar to receive the ashen crosses on our foreheads with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In my early years in ministry, I found this to be extremely embarrassing. Who am I to tell someone else that they are “dust” and that they shall return to “dust?” Over the years, however, this has become a special and meaningful privilege for me. If I can help people remember their mortality, and, yes, their imperfections/sinfulness, then maybe I am helping them remember their dependence on Christ for salvation, healing, and wholeness…..in which case I’ve been privileged to serve in some small way in their spiritual awareness and growth. I pray it was a time of awareness and growth for all who were here.

And I pray for awareness and growth for us all throughout Lent. This Sunday we’ll hear Matthew’s version of the traditional story for this First Sunday in Lent, the story of Jesus’ 40 Days of temptation in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11)

Years ago, when the movie The Last Temptation of Christ was released, there were many who were upset by the notion that Jesus was tempted. I never understood that. The scriptures themselves are very clear that Jesus was tempted, just as we all are, but that he resisted temptation. Hebrews puts it this way: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews4:15)

I hope that each of you will make worship attendance during Lent a high priority. I hope you’ll read the daily assigned verses from Matthew, as we read the Gospel together as a church family. And I hope you’ll read the daily devotions, written by members of our own church family. They are a rich blessing.

See you Sunday on the Lenten Journey,

Sandy

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