Sunday, March 01, 2009

Lenten Fast - Week One

The Lenten Journey
Lent is a season where we are reminded of our mortality and our sin. It is a 40 day journey to Good Friday (the Cross), and then to Easter (our Great Hope – The Resurrection.) It is an intentional journey that calls us to repent of sins that we have grown accustomed to and to turn our attentions and affections toward Christ, where they belong.

To aid in this journey, we will be sending out six emails, one each week, that are designed to help you focus on God. Each week we are suggesting a fast that we hope will deepen that experience. Don’t mistake this for some legalistic set of rules that you must keep to please God. It is simply a way for you to discipline your thoughts and prayers during this season as we journey together toward Easter.

Fasting – What & Why
Christian fasting is more than denying ourselves food or something else of the flesh - it's a sacrificial lifestyle before God. In Isaiah 58, we learn what a "true fast" is. It's not just a one-time act of humility and denial before God, it's a lifestyle of servant ministry to others. As Isaiah tells us, fasting encourages humility, loosens the chains of injustice, unties the cords of the yoke, frees the oppressed, feeds the hungry, provides for the poor, and clothes the naked. This concept of fasting underscores that fasting is not simply “going without” but should be accompanied by the twin practices of generosity and solidarity.

Each of the suggested fasts are just that—suggested. What degree you take the fast, and how long you decide to do it are entirely up to you. We hope that this will truly enhance your journey toward the celebration of Easter.

Week One
Suggested Fast – Consumerism
We live in a culture defined by what we can buy next. It feeds our selfishness and tells us we need more, more, more. In this first week of the Lenten journey, consider fasting from consumerism by refraining from buying goods of any kind. You may want to do this for one day, or the entire week.

As you deny yourself of those selfish desires; as you die to power of consumerism, redirect your efforts to selfless giving to others– just as Christ gave of himself.

We live in Your world, O God, and for this, we praise and thank You. Among Your treasures we creatures have fashioned many things to make our lives easier, healthier, and freer.  But we have also created more things than we need, more than we can ever use.  When these things distract us from our purpose in this life, we are misusing the world You have created.  When these things prevent others from having their basic needs met, Your creation is corrupted.  Help us to keep our eyes open to this temptation of consumerism.  Help us to be followers of Jesus who are focused on the important and simple things in life – Christians who care for others and are willing to share our riches with those who have unmet needs.  Give us the courage to go against our culture when it confuses wants and needs.  Remind us that when the journey of life in this world is complete, we take with us only our relationships – with You and with the people You have given to us to love. 

We pray for these things in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Suggested Scripture Readings
Isaiah 58:6-12; Psalm 52; Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 13

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