Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent: Fast.....Give.....Prepare....Pray.....

Today is Ash Wednesday; the beginning of Lent. The time of the year that people try to give something up for the time between now and Easter.

If you give something up this time of year, why do you do it?

Do you do it because you like a challenge?

Do you do it because everyone else does it?

Do you do it to try to lose weight (seriously, I have heard this as a reason before)?

Do you do it because it is a sacrifice that you are willing to make for 40 days because of the sacrifice Jesus made for you?

Maybe it's a combination of some or all of the above.

I was looking for scripture to fit Ash Wednesday yesterday and The Message interpretation of Isaiah 58:3-7 really spoke to me.

"The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won't get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in lack? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like? This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families."

It tells me to really think long and hard about my fasting and how I am going to do it. I can't do it with the intention of making myself look good. If I say that I am going to fast from something but still treat others poorly, then what's the point? I need to think about doing something that is truly pleasing to God.

In a sermon several years ago the pastor said, we shouldn't say we are going to give up chocolate or soda for Lent just for the sake of doing it. We should look at our lives and try to give something up for these 40 days that gets in the way of our relationship with Christ. Fasting finally made sense to me at that point.

Whether it's during Lent, once a week, or a different time of the year, fasting needs to be a time of drawing closer to Christ.

Instead of sacrificing something for Lent, have you thought of ADDING something to your life for 40 days? Something that will draw you closer to Christ???

Maybe it's giving something to someone in need or volunteering your time to a ministry or service project. Maybe it's spending more time in your Bible? More time in prayer? More time in Church?

Regardless of if you decide to fast or give this Lenten season, or a little of both....remember that this is a season of preparation; a season of reflection; a season to meditate on Jesus' journey to the cross; a season to look at your life and YOUR journey to the cross and re-evaluate your relationship with Jesus.

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