by Pastor Jocelyn Carson | February 5, 2012
Dear Trinity friends,
On Wednesday, February 22 at 7:00 pm we will host the Ash Wednesday worship and welcome our friends from Central Lutheran to worship with us. This day marks the beginning of the season of Lent, our journey with Jesus to the Cross and to the Resurrection. The three traditional disciplines of Lent are almsgiving for the poor, praying and fasting. Most of us are familiar with almsgiving and prayer, but not the practice of fasting.
Fasting in the classic sense means to give something up for a time; often we think of things we particularly like such as food or a habit that isn’t really good for us. The six weeks or forty days of Lent could give a person time to adjust to a new habit and make it part of their daily routine. Hopefully giving up something would somehow bring a person closer to God.
In the Small Catechism Martin Luther answers the question of whether fasting prepares a person to receive the sacrament worthily with these words, “Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you . . . for the forgiveness of sin,” is really worthy and well prepared.”
While fasting might be good discipline, it is not required of us as we journey through Lent towards Easter. What is required is a desire to grow in faith and we can grow in faith through prayer, giving alms and spiritual disciplines such as fasting. The prophet Micah says it like this, “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
This Lent we will have opportunities for almsgiving. In February our local benevolence is for Open Door Ministries and in March it is for the Ethiopian Chicken Hatchery. We have some extra opportunities to pray during Lent: Wednesday worship at noon here at Trinity and at 7:00 pm at Central Lutheran. Our Good Friday worship will include a time for personal prayer around the Cross. On Sunday mornings your prayer requests are always included.
Do we have any opportunities for fasting during Lent? I invite you to consider giving something up or adding something that will help you focus on God’s presence in your life. If you do plan to make a fast part of your Lenten journey, I would love to hear how it goes for you and I will include your fast in my prayers. My personal Lenten fast will be to give up playing solitaire and free cell on my computer and phone. Hopefully I will find many positive uses for that time—maybe I will even exercise more as I move closer to God. On my journey I will be thankful for your prayers, too!
Blessings on your Lenten journey—may it lead you ever closer to the heart of God,