Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.
Interestingly enough, our church which is at least semi-liturgical (we're only liturgical compared to evangelical churches) does not traditionally celebrate Ash Wednesday. Ironically, however, we do celebrate Shrove Tuesday which happens to be even more obscure than Ash Wednesday. Shrove, is the past-tense for the verb to shrive which essentially means finding release and forgiveness from sin through the process of confession and penance. Shrove Tuesday was part of a week long shrovetide where Christians practiced the discipline of confession in preparation for the penitential season of Lent. In England, they call this day Pancake Day. Because ingredients such as sugar, milk, eggs and fat were ritualistically restricted during Lent, they would feast on pancakes as a sort of last hurrah before the season of fasting.
At our church, for at least the past several years, we've used Shrove Tuesday to prepare for the season of Lent. We get together, have a bunch of pancakes, listen to a devotional (which I get to give tonight), and we're on our way into Lent.
Well, this year, for the Youth Ministry, we're trying something a bit different on top of Shrove Tuesday. Tomorrow night we're offering students the opportunity of experiencing an Ash Wednesday Prayer Labyrinth (created by my wife, Amanda). Students will be invited to enter into worship as they pray open and honestly about where they are in life, where God is in their life, and how they can best enter into the Lent season. Students will go from station to station, individually reflecting on everything from creation, to doubt, to distractions, to what it means to surrender to God and dependently rely on God.