It's the start of the season of Lent leading up to Easter

Editor's note:

Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday, a very important event in the Christian calendar leading up to Easter.
Rev. Heather Mueller is the priest-in-charge at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Taft. She sent this to the Taft Midway Driller to explain the holiday observance and invite the community to participate.

Many churches in the United States have a season of reflection and prayer and it is the 6 weeks before the most important day in the Christian Calendar.....  Easter!

 This time of introspection and prayer is called Lent.The night before the first day of Lent, is called Shrove Tuesday. The word Shrove is the word Shrive or Shriven and that means Confession and absolution or doing penance.

The way more modern day priests see this process is to encourage people to search their hearts and discern what habit is preventing them from being all that they can be. A common unhelpful  habit is the lack of exercise and stretching. Usually when people add a discipline of action/exercise  to their daily lives they feel better and can accomplish more for the glory of  God. This is an example of what a person might decide as a discipline for themselves during Lent.

This is the kind of discipline which makes more sense, I believe, in the world today. The extreme disciplines of  long -time fasting and rose thorns around a person's leg are not the way most people exercise their Lenten Discipline these days!!!

The Celebration of Mardi Gras ...Fat Tuesday is the  celebration which takes place the week before, or in our case, the night before the season of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday. In New Orleans and many other places the frivolity, parades, music and masked balls take place for many days and even weeks before Ash Wednesday.

The Customs around the world vary but they usually include the Pancake supper and music and in some places a Pancake Relay.

The pancake is served because it used the foods which were not allowed to be consumed during lent....eggs, sugar, meat and butter. The idea was to empty the larder of these items in preparation for the fast.

In Olney, England, Buckinghamshire, since 1445, there has been on the Shrove Tuesday a pancake relay. The House wives run through the town flipping the pancakes in the fry pan. Men are allowed to participate if they wear skirts, aprons and scarves.

Here at St Andrew's Episcopal Church we will have Pancakes, Spaghetti for those who do not like pancakes for dinner. We will have a pancake flipping relay.....With Prizes. You are welcome to participate or be a part of the cheering team.

We are hoping that people will come and enjoy the evening with us.

At the end of the evening we will burn the palms, from Palm Sunday last year, and prepare the ashes for use in the Ash Wednesday service at 7 p.m. the next day here at St. Andrew's. Everyone is welcome to come and join us in the fun of Mardi Gras and the reflective and contemplative day of Ash Wednesday.