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We’re in the second week of Lent, how’s the giving up something for Lent working out? So far, probably doing OK. However, as the weeks in Lent go by, the temptation to go back to the old routine will probably be too compelling. Before we know it, our “fast” from our luxury item is broken and once again we are enjoying it. Why do we put ourselves through this every Lent? What good does it do to give something up, during this 40-day journey known as Lent? This “fasting” from a favorite item/activity becomes a journey focused on ourselves. Will I succeed? Or will I succumb and not make it to the “finish line” on Easter Sunday, April 16th? Fasting becomes nothing more than a self-absorbing act; patting our self on the back because our tongue hasn’t tasted chocolate in four weeks. Fasting, during Lent, is not about personal victory and breaking the ribbon at the finish line.
Fasting during Lent is about relationship. Fasting during Lent is about recognizing we NEED God. By denying ourselves, something of the flesh, allows us to be drawn into a deeper relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When our focus is turned to Christ, we discover our needs are met and our selfish desires diminish. When our focus is turned to Christ, Christ realigns our eyesight from our navels to the needs of those around us and throughout the world.
In Isaiah 58, we learn that God desires The Fast to be a lifestyle of serving others. Fasting is about humility, breaking the chains of injustice, getting rid of exploitation in the workplace, freeing the oppressed, canceling debts, feeding the hungry, providing for the homeless, clothing those without, and being a loving presence in your own family (verses 5-7).
Living a life of servanthood is impossible without God’s help. True Fasting goes hand in hand with a deeper and richer prayer life. Fasting during Lent, is so much more than giving up a personal enjoyment. Fasting during Lent, is a springboard to a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change where Christ becomes the center of your life, opening your eyes to the needs of the world. Through prayer, we receive the courage and strength to follow the path Christ leads. Through prayer, God empowers us to hold to The True Fast - being humble servants to the stranger.
As we pray at Immanuel Lutheran, Compassionate God, sustain us in our Lenten pilgrimage: may our fasting be hunger for justice; our alms, a making of peace; and our prayer, the song of grateful hearts; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Join us for worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church (1226 E. Washington St., Washington) on Sundays 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. or Wednesdays 6 p.m.