The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls this year on February 10. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the traditional practices used by Christians observing this time leading up to Holy Week and Easter. In modern days, the practice of “fasting” has often taken the form of “giving something up” for Lent. Instead of a literal fast in which no food is consumed, one might instead refrain from eating meat, or drinking alcohol, or spending time on Facebook.
I didn’t grow up with the tradition of giving something up for Lent and I haven’t embraced the practice as an adult either. But the idea of fasting in general is one which I can’t ignore so easily. It is affirmed throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and has been a part of Christian tradition for centuries. I’ve found that there is usually at least some wisdom in such enduring traditions.
And so for my own growth and learning, and hopefully for yours as well, I’ll be exploring the topic of fasting in my sermons during Lent, beginning on Feb 14. Using different Scripture passages which include descriptions of fasting, we’ll look at how this ancient practice connects to faith, repentance, community, and justice, and perhaps examine its intersections with the other traditional Lenten practices of prayer and almsgiving. Hopefully our Lenten season will be richer as a result of what we discover together.