This is a simple explanation and an encouragement to join our fast for lent, if you have questions about the church calendar, or questions because you were told these traditions are unbiblical and pagan, or any thought that lent is a ‘work’ that will save our soul, or to get God to be happy with us check this blog out. I am not addressing that here.
When we get ready for Christmas what do we do? We feast, we party, make every effort to see friends and family. It’s a time we are generous to others, and we are generous to ourselves! Which we should be, hope was born into the world! An Old Testament equivalent to this is the feast of Purim, which celebrated how God used Queen Esther to save His people from being wiped out. They celebrated this act of bravery, by giving each other gifts. (Esther 9:20-32)
Christians have celebrated that hope is born into the world, and salvation has come. We call that season leading up to Christmas, advent, which means coming. (For the coming of Jesus!)
But for the season leading up to the Sunday Jesus rose from the dead, our focus isn’t feasting but fasting. We learn to say NO to ourselves, so we can say YES to God! Instead of giving each other gifts, and going from house to house to party, this is a season to reflect more on our own. The way this works are you fast from Monday-Saturday and celebrate and rest in what God has done on Sundays. That is why the fast is 40 days, but it takes 46 days to get to Easter, because we do not fast on Sundays, we feast!
Let’s be like the woman who pulled out the family heirloom, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and was radically generous with God… (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50; John 12:1–8) What good gift from God could you say NO to so you could say YES to the Lord? Is there something you have you can just pour in devotion out to the Lord? Here are just some suggestions, take time to pray and seek the leading of God, this fast is of course voluntary and personal, but it would still be a good idea to tell a good friend to help you keep your fast, and to prompt the kids in your home to consider this act of devotion.
- Maybe it’s no TV?
- Maybe it’s no Lunch (or another meal(s))?
- Maybe it’s no soda?
- Maybe it’s no beer?
- Maybe it’s no Facebook?
Sometimes people ask if they should give up a sin for LENT. The answer is. it’s always a good time to give up sin! But fasting is meant for you to give up something that is not a sin to you. I know of nobody who has regretted fasting. You are not going to turn off the TV for 40 days and think, “I didn’t benefit from that spiritually at all.” It is hard, but it is worth it.
Do not confuse God’s grace, and His unconditional love for meaning there is no way for you to grow, no way to be a better friend to God, no way for you to dig a deeper spiritual foundation. The response to God’s grace is always a desire to no longer abuse that grace and learn to love the things that God loves and the hate that He hates. The response to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is an outpouring of our lives to Him. Never to be ‘worthy’ of His grace, that is nonsense. But because He is at work in us and we love Him, and now know, that our greatest joy is not in the gifts He gives, but in the giver Himself. This fast is just one oppertunity for just that.
I know of nobody who has regretted fasting. You are not going to turn on the TV for 40 days and think, “I didn’t benefit from that spiritually at all.” It is hard, but it is worth it.
There are two outward pushes we are going to pray for through this lenten fast. The first is to get behind the student movement, which God has just visited in power at Ausbury College this year. We will be live streaming a prayer service at Ausbury college which is in its 12th day of nonstop worship and has spilled onto other schools. Join us at Church Thursday at 8 pm! We will also follow a prayer guide put together by the collegiate day of prayer, a movement that is 200 years old, that organizes prayer for every college campus in the country. To view these daily meditations you need to ask to join our slack group (it’s an app on your phone.). We are adopting the Camden City Campus of CCC and PB Beauty School for prayer.
The other push is the traditional push to prepare new converts for Baptism. Our prayer and hope are to fill our baptismal pool and baptize young and old on Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of the Lord with the new life that God is bringing into our people. May God even save some people through the six weeks leading up to Easter starting now and if you desire to be baptized please let us know!