Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. Mark 2:18-20
On Sunday, I made Gena’s Cinnamon Rolls. These are decadent things that I had originally scheduled to make on Saturday. Then I realized, with a smack to the forehead, that it would conflict with my Lenten fast. So Sunday it was.
The recipe is long and does take some time, but the results are well worth it. I got up early on Sunday morning to make them for the family and still get to church on time. They were wonderful and sweet and a perfect Sunday morning celebration. The fact that a few have lasted past Sunday to be a temptation during the week just reminds me of the Lenten fast. During this time, we are supposed to want what we can’t have, what we have decided to deny ourselves, including cinnamon rolls.
Some may ask why I am having sweets at all if I have given them up for the season of Lent. Well, it goes like this: Lent is the 40 Days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Now, if you were to count those days, you would quickly see that their number does not equal 40. This is because the Sundays during the season are not considered an actual part of Lent. Here is why. Christians celebrate and worship primarily on Sunday because on this day, Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty and Resurrection became part of our story. All Sundays are therefore “Little Easters,” days that we celebrate the reality that Jesus is not dead, but has risen. These are days for feasting, not fasting. So it is not only permissible to stop your fast for the day – that is, it isn’t cheating – it is essential. Sundays are days for celebration.
(I had a conversation about this recently with a clergy friend. She wrote about it on her blog, and was generous enough to paint me as the kind of holy, Sabbath practicing person I wish I could be. Shannon, in case I never told you before, I have always thought of you as a cross between Julian of Norwich and Joan of Arc.)
Life is not always sweet. I was reflecting on this a few weeks ago when my daughter asked me for ice cream for breakfast. I truly wish I could give her nothing but sweets. I wish for her to have nothing in life other than what she can relish and revel in. If I were to give her that, however, it would not lead her toward a happier life. In fact, it would likely do the opposite. It certainly wouldn’t help her to enjoy the benefits of health and discipline. Life isn’t meant to be all sweet.
Still, there are times in which sweets are appropriate. We have plenty to celebrate in our world. God has graced us well beyond the simple meeting of our needs. The abundance we enjoy comes from the hand of an extravagant God who calls us through our scripture to rejoice! Even during the serious season of Lent, we are called to remember all the reasons God gives us for delight.
Does this mean that busting down the doughnut shop door on Sunday morning is actually a holy act? Maybe not. But it is too easily forgotten that our faith is something to be celebrated. Though Sunday worship is possibly a solemn, sometimes even somber event, it is still at heart a party. Jesus’ resurrection and our salvation are great and happy realities, and if we can’t say “Yippee!” about it on Sunday, when can we?
So I wish you an austere and introspective Lent, and a festive, decadent and worshipful Sunday!
Gena’s Cinnamon Rolls
Melt in saucepan: 2/3 c. margarine, 1 c. water, 1 c. milk, 1 t. salt (till really warm – can still hold your finger in it but is almost hot).
In Mixing Bowl: 1 c. plain flour, 2/3 c. sugar, 1 package yeast (or 1 T. yeast). Add melted margarine/milk mixture once it gets really warm. Blend till smooth (wait a few minutes to see if yeast is bubbly then you’ll know it’s good). Add a cup of flour at a time (up to 8 cups total) until you need to put the bread hook on. May add in 1 egg at a time (2 eggs total) but the rolls turn out fine w/out eggs . . . just makes them richer. I spray Pam on the sides of the mixing bowl while the dough is still in the bowl and scooch the dough around and spray it underneath the dough too so it can rise in the bowl you mixed it in. Cover it with a towel or whatever and put in a warm spot until at least double then punch down and turn out on a floured surface.
On the Counter: Knead in a little more flour or turn it over in flour so it’s not sticky when you roll it out into a 16x20 rectangle (or circle . . . like you can roll it into a “rectangle”). Spread some soft butter onto the dough until it’s evenly covered.
In a Small bowl with lid: Mix 1 ½ c. sugar and 3 T. cinnamon. Sprinkle over buttered dough. (can put nuts on at this point . . . but why would you want to?)
On the Counter: Roll up dough in a jelly roll and seal the edges with water . . . dip your fingers in water and pat the roll to make it moist and press together to make a seal. Use dental floss or thread to cut into 12-14 pieces.
Coat 13x9 (or larger) pan: with ½ c. melted margarine and sprinkle with ¼ c. sugar. Put rolls in pan with sides touching or close. Let rise till doubled or until you can’t take it anymore and you have to bake them . . . about 20 min. to 45 min.
Bake: in 350 degrees x 20-30 min. I just check them after 20 min. and if they’re done in the middle of the middle cinnamon roll then yeah! They’re done.
Frosting: Mix 2 c. powdered sugar, 1/3 c. melted margarine. 1-2 t. vanilla until forms a thick paste (I don’t follow a recipe so this might have to be adjusted with more or less liquid and/or powdered sugar . . . can use a smidge of milk to thin it). Spread on warm rolls.