Sunday, February 24, 2013

This Lent - Fasting in My Christian Community

At Church of the Saviour in Cleveland Heights where our family worships, the theme for the church year is Hunger. So for Lent we are reading as a community, "A Place at the Table" by Chris Seay

In this book Chris teaches about fasting, not only as a prayer practice or an act of sacrifice, but also as a sign of solidarity with the poor. He suggests living for 40 days as the poor do. It may be through eating rice and beans every day as many people who live in Central and South America do. It may be by living on the equivalent of Food Stamps, as many single parent families do. It may be by cutting down the amount of food we eat and stopping snacking. It may be by forgoing a meal once a week.

Chris suggests that whatever money we save by our method of fasting, we donate it to a charity serving the poor. At our church we will be packing meals through Feed My Starving Children and hope to pack enough for 100,000 meals!

We are 10 days into Lent and it has been interesting to hear people talk about their experience thus far.  A few of my friends in our Bible study group commented on how they had been feeling hungry some days, and how that had been something they hadn't felt in a long while.

One friend, whose family is eating rice and beans for their main meal, shared that her teenage son jumped into the car after school and said, "What are we having for... oh, I guess I know already!"

Another friend told how she wasn't having to buy as much food because she had cut down on portions, and noticed not only how much money she was saving, but also how much better she felt physically.

What we are all noticing is the ABUNDANCE most of us have, and how we take it for GRANTED. We have access to so much variety, we use in excess, and we are wasteful in many of our eating habits.

This is aside from the spiritual effect that living sacrificially has on our soul and our walk with God.

Our church is using a blog COTS Fasts and Feasts to share experiences, recipes (lots of rice and beans!), resources and prayers in order to encourage each other on this journey. Feel free to join us and comment on fasting experiences that you have had. Today's prayer is by Sir Francis Drake and sums up for me what God might be doing in our lives this Lenten season.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Sir Francis Drake

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