Posts tagged “Fasting

Sermo Dei: Invocabit 2017

Posted on March 6th, 2017

What would you do if you could do anything? The great basketball coach John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” It’s those moments when no one is watching when our true self emerges. When you can do what you choose, what do you do? And if you could choose anything, what would it be? Among the most common myths is that you can achieve freedom by having more resources and less responsibility. If you had more money and less work, then you’d be free. If you had more time and fewer people making demands, then you’d be free. It’s a lie. Freedom is not found in time or money. And slavery is…

Holy Saturday: Funeral for a Herring (corrected)

Posted on April 19th, 2014

From Francis Weiser’s Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs: An amusing custom is practiced in Poland on Holy Saturday. The boys of the villages “bury” the Lenten fare, herring and zur, in a mock funeral. The herring (a real one or a wooden image) is first executed by hanging, then a pot of zur is shattered against a rock or tree; finally the fish and the pieces of the pot are interred with glee. No longer will these tiresome dishes be eaten, at least not until next Lent.

Sermo Dei: Ash Wednesday 2014

Posted on April 8th, 2014

Jesus expects you to fast. “When you fast,” tonight’s Gospel says. When. It’s not optional. This is what disciples of Jesus do. In the same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “When you give alms,” and, “When you pray.” These are things that Christians do. This season of Lent is called in German Fastenzeit – “fasting-time.” I read recently a very earnest and well-intentioned essay by a pastor that argued that fasting is bad for your spiritual life. He says it’s because it makes rules that are within our reach, which makes us legalists—people who think that God is pleased with us because of what we do. His other main point is that fasting confuses sin with something exterior to ourselves—that what comes into…

The Separation of the Lenten Fast from the Paschal Fast

Posted on March 22nd, 2013

Many commentaries have considered the six weeks of Lent to be a still further extension of the paschal fast, but that seems to be a serious oversimplification. In the West we are accustomed today to a six-week lent of which the final week is Holy Week, and our tendency is to see that as only the last and most solemn week of the longer fast season. Such a total of six weeks was urged also at Alexandria in the time of Athanasius, but it is clear from his festal letters, of which we possess a great many, that his church understood the final week of the six to be distinct. Some of those letters, such as the first, announce only the beginning of the…

Sermo Dei: Ash Wednesday Divine Service

Posted on February 13th, 2013

“Who knows?” said the king of Nineveh. Jonah had come preaching. He came against his will. There is a certain madness to preaching, at least the kind of preaching God demands. Jonah knew they wouldn’t like it, so he set out in the opposite direction. Chapters 1 and 2 of Jonah tell quite a tale, but it’s chapter 3 set before us tonight. Jonah announces, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” What must he have expected? “Some will laugh at me, and others will kill me.” For his instructions at the beginning were, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” This is no generic message of a far-off judgment…

Discipline and appetite, fasting and feasting

Posted on February 11th, 2013

The discipline of the body over food, which God designed through cycles of both fasting and feasting, is necessary to recognize God’s fatherly goodness and sovereignty. That’s what Mardi Gras in relation to Lent gets right. No person’s appetite is sovereign. It is balanced out by the larger considerations of worship, life, culture, family, society. A life that is all fast or all feast is disordered to the core. Russell D. Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

More bread than Satan can provide

Posted on November 14th, 2012

Regarding the temptation in the wilderness after forty days of fasting, Russell Moore observes, Jesus flees Satan’s temptation not because he doesn’t like bread, but because he wants more bread than Satan can provide and because he wants the bread in fellowship with his Father and with his bride. Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

Origins of “fast, fasting”

Posted on February 14th, 2012

A very curious third-grade student in our parish school is insisting I figure out for him the etymology of “fast” as in, “Lent is a time of fasting.” These are the times I wish I had the books of the CTSFW library at my disposal. I’m stuck with the internet, and hopefully you, gentle reader, can fill in the gaps. Here’s what I have so far: fast comes from Old English faestan, a cognate of the German fasten, both of which are supposed to come from the Old Norse fasta, all of which mean “to abstain from or eat little food; to abstain from foods for religious reasons.” But how does the fast root come to mean that, and what (if any) is the connection…

Ash Wednesday

Posted on February 25th, 2009

Propers from the Lutheran Lectionary: Joel 2.12-19; 2 Peter 1.2-11; Mattew 6.16-21 The ashes stain my thumb such that I have to scrub harshly with soap to remove it. The stain reminds me of the pictures you probably have seen, photos of Iraqis who, after voting, have purple thumbs dipped in ink. But the comparison is more than coincidental. As the colored ink on an Iraqi thumb indicates participation in the electoral process, so the stain of the ashes on our bodies indicates our participation in the fall of man. The whole human race sinned in Adam’s fall; the human race sinned, for Adam and his wife were the human race. In a broad sense all of us members of the human race participated…

The importance of preparation

Posted on February 23rd, 2009

Lent is at our door. Are we ready? Ready for the change that God demands of us – change that should have been our program all along? Since Transfiguration Sunday on February 1, I have been consciously reminding my people, and myself, at every opportunity, that the Gesima-tide is our time to prepare for and map out the journey that we are going to undergo in following Christ in the way of the cross. With Quinquagesima yesterday, there was the stark reminder that the journey is upon us: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,” and the things that are written about the Son of Man are about to come to pass. I have done what I observed at Redeemer, Fort Wayne, back in…