I was chatting with a friend, of a different faith background than me. She remarked about how we Catholics (and some other faiths) celebrate Advent and Lent as preparatory seasons for a big feast. She seemed to appreciate the sense of it all, though her faith community does not partake.
And frankly, so do I. Because it makes sense! It would be so weird if life just went along and then one day it was Easter. Or Christmas. And you celebrated it and then it was done and that was that for another year. I mean, sure, maybe you prepared and marked your calendar to see what day Easter falls on this year and you bought a ham or a turkey and Easter candy, and maybe you organized a neighbourhood egg hunt because that would be fun for the kids and you would be really popular, but ... did this grow your faith? Why is Easter a celebration for you then?
That's NOT how its supposed to be.
I challenge you to do more. To relish the preparation. To take the lenten journey, which is really a small likeness of our earthly journey to Heaven. Share and pass down the faith to your little ones and if you don't feel your faith is strong enough for that then now is a good time have a chat with God and give it up to Him. Pray. Meditate on the sacrifice of Christ. Fast. Count down the days till you feast again. Prepare your heart. Preparation is a good thing, right?
The first Christians fasted (Acts 13:2; 14:23). Here we are, 2000 years later, and today I warmly invite you to join me and several of my friends in a fast. Make it a one-meal fast or an only-water-to-drink-fast - God will honor whatever you choose, if its done with the right motive and attitude - that is - love and humility.
Let's talk a minute about last week's fast. A friend and I emailed several times during the day as we fasted, and that was really helpful! The interesting thing? She said it was one of the easiest fasts she's ever done. And I wonder. I wonder why that was. Was it because we knew we had moral support along the way? Aren't we supposed to help bear one another's burdens? But on the other hand, I wondered if a harder fast is more sanctifying. You know? What do you think?
A couple of tips for fasting:
- decide what you're going to do (bread and water? one main meal and two small snacks?)
- keep yourself well-hydrated and drink lots of water throughout the day
- have an intention on your heart as you fast and when you feel those hunger pangs, reach out to God with your intention
- have your Bible close by at all times! I have read that Scripture comes more alive when you are fasting, so fill yourself up with God's word today! And every day!
- if you are eating something today, give thanks for it.
- consider adopting a "catch-phrase" to ponder on when you are feeling hungry or like you are going to give in. Here are a few good ones:
- "When I am weak, I am strong" (2 Cor 12:10)
- "My grace is sufficient, for power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9)
- "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13)
- expect a little spiritual warfare, but know that God is on your side
- enlist the prayer support of a friend or group. Text or email each other. Or post in the comm box. We are social beings after all, and meant to live with the support of a community. It really helps!