Dear Friends in Christ,
As the month of March begins, we enter in to the Lenten season culminated with Easter. In celebration of Lent we will have an As Wednesday service at 6:00pm on Wednesday March 2nd. Ashes will be blessed and distributed in the Church on Ash Wednesday. They are used to keep us in mind of our humble origin, and of how the body of Adam, our forefather, was formed out of the clay of the earth; also to remind us of death, when our bodies will return to dust, and of the necessity of doing penance for our sins. These ashes are obtained by burning the blessed palms of the previous year. While the ashes remind us that we will die and return to the ground, if we believe in Jesus we will be raised with him in glorious new spiritual bodies.
Traditionally, Lent is a time when Christians practice fasting or abstinence. Many of us will “give up” something for Lent. When I was a child, I used to try to give up something like chocolate, or soda, or candy, many of the things that my parents would not usually let me eat or drink. I was trying to avoid the sacrifice and make it easy to do. That is not the true intention of why we fast during Lent. The leader of our church, John Wesley was an avid Faster. He fasted weekly, from Thursday at sundown until receiving communion on Sunday, as the Church of England expected its clergy to do. To Wesley, fasting or abstinence were ways to express sorrow for sin and penitence for overindulgence in eating and drinking. He commended fasting to all Methodists to allow more time for prayer, and he noted that fasting or abstinence was more meaningful when combined with giving to the poor. At the same time, he advised caution against extreme fasting and urged those in fragile health not to fast from food.
He felt that using the extra time we have, when we are not preparing food or eating, for growing closer to God was truly life changing. He advocated “adding” something to our spiritual lives as much as “giving up” something from our physical lives.
John Wesley was so adamant about fasting that he devoted an entire sermon, Sermon #27 on the subject. One of his primary beliefs was when fasting, it is far more powerful when you replace food with prayer or action, particularly giving to the poor. He felt that using the extra time we have, when we are not preparing food or eating, for growing closer to God was truly life changing. He advocated “adding” something to our spiritual lives as much as “giving up” something from our physical lives.
For the past many years, each year, I have embarked on a significant spiritual journey during Lent. I commit to a fast for the entire time of Lent. Before you stop reading, I do not abstain from food for 40+ days, I do a structured fast, known as the Daniel Fast. This fast is Biblical based on the life of Daniel while in captivity in Babylon. During his captivity, Daniel held fast to his Jewish heritage and refused to eat the rich food and drink that was provide to him. Instead, he ate fruits, vegetables, whole grains and drank water. This diet allowed him to show reverence to God and grow stronger than everyone else. The modern day fast is best described as being “Vegan”. They key to the fast is really about taking more time to connect with God. Every time you have a hunger pain or feel like eating, replace that urge with prayer, or service, or reading scripture. This fasting has lead me to a much closer relationship with God. If anyone is interested in taking this amazing journey with me (you do not have to commit to the entirety of Lent), please let me know and I will provide you with more information. Your life will be transformed!
In the Service of Christ,
Pastor Ron DeBaun