A Place at the Table
I love the heart behind this movement: That our fasting would draw us near to God and join us to His redemptive purposes in the world.
A few words about fasting that I shared with our church (for more, you can visit our church community’s site):
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced by followers of Christ from the beginning of the church. In fasting, we withdraw temporarily from food — a good gift from God — to remind ourselves that God Himself is our soul’s greatest hunger.
During Lent, we invite you to fast with two goals:
- To draw near to God — to make room in our hearts for more of Christ
- To realign our hearts with God’s mission — if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life
Fasting is not:
- A diet or a way to lose weight
- Kicking a bad habit
- A way to prove your spiritual maturity
- A form of punishment
We encourage you to break your fast on Sundays as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection together. Feasting (but not bingeing or overindulging) is an important spiritual discipline to practice as well. As Chris Seay writes:
Feast days are a time for us to relax our fast and enjoy the extravagant grace of our Father, with friends and family — to enjoy the taste of food in a way we may never have before, and to give thanks to God who provides all we have.
We encourage you not to make an idol out of your fast, or to rely too much on your own strength. Breaking your fast once a week reminds us that it’s not about us, but about our God who saves.
Fasting with Our Sponsor Child
In the past, I’ve done several different kinds of Lenten fasts: from red meat, from television (which, sadly, was probably the hardest), and good old-fashioned, actual fasting for a day at a time. This year, though, our family has committed to eat a diet similar to our sponsor child who lives in Lebanon.
This has involved several components:
- Giving up most meats — although meat is fairly common in many Lebanese dishes, it is not readily affordable by our sponsor child
- Giving up most snacks — again, running to the store for a Chocodile isn’t really an option for our sponsor child’s family
- Drinking lots of water — two reasons: first, once again, not lots of money left over for Diet Coke, etc. (although I continue to drink coffee – mostly for the protection of those around me); second, it keeps me from overeating (as part of this fast, I’ve been trying to eat modest portions).
- Loads of time spent on food prep at home — because we’ve committed to a very limited food budget, eating out is not an option for us.
None of this Lenten fast would be possible without my amazing wife. She is a wonderful mom, a truly gifted pastor, devoted to loving God and loving people — and she chefs like a boss in the kitchen. With the amazing homemade Middle Eastern food she’s been making, this life-long carnivore has not missed red meat at all.
Seriously, homemade hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh, couscous, flat bread — to say I’m blessed would be a drastic understatement.
Apologies for the poor photography, but see for yourself:
Love God, Love People
Our family, including our daughter, has been praying for Christian (our sponsor child) at every meal, and throughout the week. God has made our hearts bigger as we’ve sat at the table with Christ at the head, our family, and Christian’s family.
It would be ridiculous to call my fast “suffering” — it has, however, made me more conscientious throughout the day; of my need for more of Christ to fill my wayward heart, and of God’s incredible love for those who suffer.
Our family will give the money we’ve saved during Lent to an organization that feeds hungry kids around the world. I’m looking forward to sitting down with my wife and daughter in front of our computer and choosing an organization together.
Via Christine Sine, here is a Lenten prayer for your journey:
Jesus may we follow you on the pilgrim way of Lent,
May we journey with you into the wilderness,
Willing to move beyond the ordinary,
So that we can discover your unexpected sacred places.
Jesus may we wash our hands and purify our hearts,
Learning to thirst after righteousness and hunger after justice,
May we humble ourselves before you,
Expecting to see you revealed in a new light.
Jesus may we walk with you no matter how challenging the path,
Learning to be patient with darkness and growth,
Willing to live with not knowing,
Until your mustard seeds take root and sprout into life.