a true Lenten fast - Printable Version

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a true Lenten fast - HelenaZF - 03-15-2006

Lent is a time when many Christians feel the need to participate in a fast of some kind--for all kinds of reasons: church mandate, desire to simplify and cleanse, to get ready for the Resurrection feast, penance/self-flagellation, tradition, etc. The most common type of Lenten fasting seems to be some kind of pleasure deprivation. Some give up sweets, or other favorite foods. Some give up pleasurable activities...all in the quest to subjugate the flesh for a time.

I thought it might be interesting to look at what God says about an acceptable fast. Here are a couple of verses from Isaiah, (G-d speaking):

Quote:Isaiah 58: 

6  Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

I've long wondered about the value of the giving up of treats as an appropriate Lenten fast. It seems to me that it is very self-focused. I remember as a child, obsessing about the thing that I had given up (usually chocolate) and never, ever making it through the whole six weeks of Lent without succumbing to the cravings. :munchies:

As an adult and spirit-filled believer, I'm still wondering if there isn't a better way. Taking a cue from the Isaiah scripture, I wonder if it wouldn't produce more benefit to our flesh to fast something that would bring a benefit to others. Say, having to have the last word, or being irritable, or selfish. Subjugating those fleshy things would actually benefit those around us, and it would take the focus of the fast off our navel-gazing selves and make us think about how we affect the people around us.

Taking it one step farther, might be to take time (or money <URL url="http://imageshack.us"><IMG content="http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/9361/mytwocents9zq.gif">[Image: mytwocents9zq.gif] )we spend on ourselves and find ways to use it to minister to others--the oppressed, the burdened, the hungry spoken of in the Isaiah scripture.

It seems to me this type of fast would accomplish the requisite buffeting of our souls, but even more, further the Kingdom as we bring life-giving ministry to others.

Or...we could just keep (unsuccessfully) giving up chocolate for 6 weeks every year.

a true Lenten fast - HelenaZF - 04-14-2006

Besides.....this is what happens to people who give up chocolate for Lent.

<URL url="http://imageshack.us"><IMG content="http://img88.imageshack.us/img88/4199/chocolate1oc.gif">[Image: chocolate1oc.gif]