I am still learning about some of the holidays here in England, but today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as "Pancake Day." We are planning to have some tonight during the break at our evening School of the Bible and here some favourite things to to put on pancakes are lemon juice and sugar or golden syrup. So to get ready I bought a tin of very British Lyle's Golden Syrup.
The tin bears a picture of the rotting carcass of a lion with a swarm of bees, and the slogan "Out of the strong came forth sweetness." In 2006 Guinness World Records declared the mark to be the world's oldest brand and it is connected with the story of Samson in chapter 14 of the Book of Judges which I preached from on Sunday evening. Samson was travelling to the Philistine city in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion with his hands, and when he passed the same spot on his return he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a comb of honey in the carcass. Samson later turned this into a riddle at a wedding: "Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
In the 1880's a Scottish Christian businessman, Abram Lyle, and his sons started a sugar refining business on the River Thames. After a series of disastrous events it looked like the business would go bankrupt. As Mr Abrams prepared to close the factory they were trying to decide what to do with a by-product at the sugar cane refining factory, a treacle-like goo that usually went to waste. They put it into barrels for workers or locals to take home. Then Charles Eastick, a chemist at the Lyle refinery formulated a way of refining the goo. The resulting product was marketed in 1885 as "golden syrup." Mr Lyle, a deeply religious man, recognized the fact that sometimes sweetness can come through hardship, and used the picture of the lion and honey on the green and gold tins, which were soon flying off the shelves. The logo was a reminder to the Victorians that even in the most difficult of days like those of the Judges under Philistine oppression, God can still work and bring sweetness in the end.
Peter tells us that the devil is like a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. But as the End of the Book tells us, he is a defeated foe. God will restore sweetness to all of creation when He comes again. But in the meantime is there an area in your life where the devil is attacking? God can bring sweetness and honey even from the midst of hard times. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
Happy Pancake Day!