Fat Tuesday is not a tradition with which I was very familiar growing up. In fact, as far as I can remember, the whole Lent thing was really played down when I was growing up. Since hitting adulthood, though, it seems I have always landed myself in a church where Fat Tuesday is a big occasion. Here in Pontiac the Pancakes and Sausages start flying onto the plates around 11am and will continue until 7pm or later. The tickets raise money for the ministries of the church and will fund everything from children’s ministry to worship; but money-making isn’t really what’s at the heart of Pancakes and Sausages on Shrove Tuesday. At the heart of Pontiac First United Methodist Church’s obsession with that “day of shame” is community. The men of the church, no matter whether they carefully grumble a bit or not, really enjoy getting together and making those hot, sweet pancakes and frying up sausages.
When we look around the church today we must be thankful for the women of the church because they are ever-present and, in many ways, they are the cement that holds the place together. Us men could not do all that the women do each week to make ministry happen. Maybe I’m being sexist, but I’m pretty well convinced that we’re just not up to the task. I think about the missions of the United Methodist Women, the worship leaders who are nearly all women, not to mention all the women who are involved in our afterschool tutoring and confirmation program.
In a way us men have let ourselves down. By backing out of the church more than we ever should have, we have lost our community. We need an outlet that speaks to our hearts, and, in this case, fills our bellies. That’s why I think we, United Methodist Men, like sausage and pancake day. Yup, for a full day we get to hang out with each other. For a full day our wives and children will not pester us about too much grease or too much red meat…or too much salt. Why? Because for at least one day of the year we are all together raising money for the church and enjoying ourselves at church. No woman is crazy enough to mess with that system.
For me, the question is whether pancakes and sausage are enough. I mean, it’s great that we have this day and this solidarity, but it doesn’t seem as though Christ is calling us together as men of the church just so that we can feed people unhealthy food and cause a mass-genocide of swine 🙂 There must be a greatness that we are being called toward. This community of men who have been doing this project for 25+ years (some of them) are surely being called to something more than pancakes.
Jesus fed people whenever he could and enjoyed doing it. I always say that’s a great place to start! But Jesus didn’t just feed people physically (and never poorly). Jesus fed people spiritually, physically, emotionally, and, even, educationally.
I think that the men of this church have started something good. I think we could keep doing it the same way for another 25 years and it will be good. But I would like to believe that we are called to greatnesss. Men of the church: Let’s look around at Pancake Day. What feeds us and how to we shape our excitement and interests into a ministry that does more than physical feeding. How do we create new ministries that are life-changing here at Pontiac First United Methodist Church.