Pretzels Before Lent
Lent begins next week, on Wednesday, February 14th. This season of getting ready for Easter is traditionally a serious time of contemplation about how to live as a follower of Jesus. Easter. People commonly associate Lent with giving up chocolate or meat. Others pick up something during Lent, like a prayer time, Sabbath*, reading , journaling, giving to others, or reading the Bible. Both giving up and picking up Lenten practices are meant to help us focus on God. Lenten practices often need some preparation and discussion, which you are invited to do as you make and/or eat pretzels – a traditional pre-Lent treat.
Pretzels and pancakes were often made as a way to use up flour, sugar and butter before giving them up for Lent. Pretzels are believed to be shaped in form of arms crossed in prayer over the chest. They can be a reminder to give something up (rich foods) or as a reminder to pick up something new, like prayer. They are also fun to make!
Supplies Needed: Pretzels or pretzel dough, butterfly shapes, pencils.
Make or purchase pretzel dough ahead of time. If 5 minutes is all you have, purchase a bag of pretzels (and maybe something to dip them in as a treat). This pretzel dough recipe that has been handed down to me can be made and refrigerated until ready to use.
1 ½ c warm water (not hot)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
4 c flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add the sugar, salt and flour. Mix until a dough forms. Knead on a floured board. Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll it into a 15-inch strip. Make a loop by twisting the ends together. Bring the ends up and over and press them against the sides of the loop. Place the pretzels on a greased cookie sheet and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425 deg for 12-15 minutes.
Discuss what you would like to give up or pick up during Lent as you eat your pretzels. Write your intentions on a paper butterfly and tuck it away until Easter. Wonder together how your choice will help you focus on God during this time.
Create a list of things you will need during Lent: devotional books, candles, purple cloth, a jar for coins, blocks of time reserved on the calendar for Sabbath time, removing tempting foods from the house, etc.
Pray together: Loving God, help us to embrace the rhythm of a new season focused on you. Open our hearts to new experiences, new learning, and new people during Lent.
*At Northbrook UMC, our theme will be Sabbath as Gift and Resistance. We’ll email one page devotionals with one Sabbath practice per week on Monday, February 12. If you’d like to receive one, please sign up for our email list.