Ash Wednesday

Fat Tuesday is now behind us. I hope you celebrated well. Today, the beginning of Lent, begins a time of fasting and reflection–at least for the more liturgical of Christians. For some evangelical Protestants it is not something emphasized.

I did not grow up in a family or church that emphasized fasting during Lent–or any other time for that matter. We kids made fun of the Lutherans (the majority in my home village) who fasted by giving up a food for Lent. Famous was the guy who gave up watermelon. That is a fruit unavailable in March and April in Ohio.

Giving up something that you couldn’t get anyway is obviously making light of the ritual and not practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting. God warns us many times (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14, Joel 2, Zechariah 7 for example) about fasting with the wrong attitude.

That is why Isaiah says this:

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover them,

and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up quickly;”

Isaiah 58:6-8

Jesus also tells us that if we are fasting, do not go around looking sad and burdened. Appear as normal. But between you and God, you agree to give up some food or drink as a discipline for a period of time.

Tip: It can also be healthy. I had a Catholic friend who gave up desserts, fried foods, and beer for Lent. Lost 10 pounds every year. Then Easter Sunday came and it all went back on. But he had the right attitude any way.

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