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Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 31st January 2021.

‘Forgiveness, Concordances and Pancakes’

After over forty ‘Thoughts for the Day’ since the lockdown last March (this is in fact No. 42), I have been finding it increasingly difficult in recent weeks to think of a new topic. Usually by Thursday each week I am still struggling for a topic on which to prepare a reflection, and I keep hoping that a word will stand out from a Bible reading, or a newspaper or magazine, or a book I am currently reading. (But I have had no inspiration recently from Agatha Christie.)

However, last Sunday a word on a radio programme set me thinking. It was the word ‘Forgiveness’. I have in fact written a Thought for the Day (No. 7) on forgiveness, but I was struck by a little story in that radio programme that persuaded me to think and write on the subject again. But to include something new I have added a couple of extras, as you will have seen from the heading! Anyway, more about the radio programme later.

Now I am sure you are thinking to yourselves, why does the word ‘Pancakes’ appear in the heading to this reflection.

Often, when I am preparing a Thought for the Day, I will pick up my Concordance for inspiration. In case anyone reading this does not know what a Concordance is, it is a book containing an alphabetical list of all the main words in the Bible. Against each word is a list of references to all the verses in the Bible containing that word, with a few words of the verse in each entry to remind you what the verse is all about. So if, for example, you wanted to find verses that include the word ‘forgiveness’ or ‘figs’ or even ‘frogs’, the Concordance is the place to find them. I can assure you that the word ‘Pancake’ does not appear in my Concordance (which lists words in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible). There are lots of references to ‘Unleavened bread’ and ‘Cakes’, but no ‘Pancakes’. So how did I get round to thinking about pancakes? I’ll explain the roundabout way I got to pancakes in a moment.

The subject of forgiveness reminded me that we are rapidly approaching Lent, which is traditionally regarded in the Church as a time for prayer and reflection. It is a time to reflect on our lives, including thinking about the things we may have done wrong or failed to do, and a time to ask for God’s forgiveness. It is also a time for reflection on our relationships with God and with the people around us. If we feel that someone has hurt us and we have been bottling up anger or resentment, it’s a good time to think about letting that go. After all, every time we say the Lord’s Prayer we say: ‘ … and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us … ‘. So there are two aspects to forgiveness: seeking forgiveness from God, and forgiving others who have hurt us.

And as my Concordance reminds me in the entry for Forgiveness, Jesus said (Matthew 6:14-15): “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”. So Lent is a time for turning over a new leaf, clearing out the bottles of hurt from the storerooms of our minds. Sometimes it can be hard to forgive others, but it is something we must all strive to do, if we don’t want those hurts to forever remain a burden.

Now back to the radio programme. Since March, whenever I haven’t been preparing to leave home for a 9.00am service (which has been most Sundays since the first lockdown), I have enjoyed listening to Sunday Worship on Radio 4 at 8.10am. Last Sunday, one of the themes was forgiveness. Canon Joseph Bilal included this in his address:

“Jesus calls us to forgive one another as God himself has forgiven us. We must ‘let go of’ the desire for vengeance and retribution (Matthew.18:18). President Nelson Mandela of South Africa visited the United States of America, and President Bill Clinton asked him ‘How are you able to bring yourself to forgive your jailers?’ Nelson replied: ‘When I walked through the gate I knew that if I continued to hate those people who jailed me, I was still in prison. If you hate, you will give your heart and mind. Don’t give these two things away.’”

If we fail to forgive, we remain prisoners of the things that hurt us. If we forgive, we are free from the sentence we impose on ourselves by harbouring anger or resentment.

But back to pancakes! Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on 17 February. So it’s not far away. And what happens before Ash Wednesday? – Shrove Tuesday. And what happens on Shrove Tuesday? – Pancakes! For many, it is the one day in the year when they eat pancakes. But pancakes can be enjoyed any day of the year, whenever we feel the desire or need for one. And like pancakes, forgiving others is not something to be thought about and done once in a while, but whenever the need arises. And the sooner the better.

Now, do you like pancakes? How do you like them? Sweet, with sugar or honey or treacle or jam, or something else sweet? Or sour, with lemon juice? Or savoury? I thought I would end this piece by sharing with you a recipe for a type of pancake you may never have tried. I was going to delay giving you this recipe until the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday, but decided to give it to you now, so that, if you would like to try it and you don’t have all the ingredients, you have time to get the ingredients you are missing. This recipe comes from some old friends, Norman and Rose Gehlbach (sadly no longer with us), who lived in Toronto. You may think this recipe and the way it is served a bit unusual, but Canadians love pancakes served this way for breakfast. And so do I, though I haven’t had any for some time. If you do give this recipe a try, do let me know what you think. If you don’t like these pancakes, all I can say is – forgive me!

Fr. Ray

ROSE & NORM’S LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES

In a mixing bowl:
1 Cup (8 oz) of Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon (5 ml) of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Cup of Sugar
Grated rind of a lemon
In a blender:
3 Large Eggs
½ Cup of Buttermilk (or regular milk)
The juice of the lemon
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese

Do the blending and then mix the wet and dry ingredients together. The batter will be very thick.

Put a dollop in a frying pan, aiming to make thick pancakes about 4 inches across.

Serve a couple of pancakes with sausage and bacon, and with lashings of maple syrup.

You can prepare the mixture the night before you want to have pancakes for breakfast and put it in the fridge. You can even put the mixture into yoghurt pots and freeze them, then defrost them when you need them.