Observing Lent: a new kind of fast

I came across this blog entry from one of my former seminary classmates, Alan Combs, about how we approach the Lenten fast, and I thought that it was worth sharing. He writes:

Lent is about becoming more human, not less human…. Lent is about embracing Christ as the beginning and ending of our lives. Perhaps, for some of you among us, men and women both, there are things that we need to give up or take on to become more human. And that might not always mean stopping eating. For some of us, it may mean to begin eating. This same professor in seminary once recommended that a young woman with body image issues bake herself cookies every day during Lent. For this woman, such a discipline became a time of healing, even though we might at first glance consider her actions a sign of indulgence.

Even as I fast myself at different times, even as I recommend fasting to others, I also wonder about the places that my recommendations might do damage. After all, the prevailing message we have ringing in our ears is “DON’T EAT.” The worse thing I could do as your pastor is to baptize that message without qualification. Perhaps the fast to which some of us are called is to fast from doing things that destroy us. From running ourselves ragged. Perhaps our fast must be from busyness. Perhaps it is for those who have felt unable to speak for one reason or another to give voice to the pain that is within them. (Read the whole entry here).

Alan reminds us that Lent is not a season to simply give something up for the sake of giving it up. It’s not about refraining from soft drinks or chocolate because it is just something that we are supposed to do. Instead, Lent is about a season of repentance. It is a season where we recognize the sin in our lives that prevents us from living into the fullness of our humanity, into the fullness of what it means to be in relationship with the God who created us in God’s own image.

Alan writes, “Perhaps the fast to which some of us are called is to fast from doing things that destroy us.” These are powerful and challenging words to us today. As we go through this season of Lent together, I ask you, what is the fast that you are called to?



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