Skip to main content

the fast


Monday was a fasting day for our church. I usually restrict my diet to liquids during a fast, but this day turned out differently. What is a fast really, but something you give up because you have a tendency to turn to it for comfort instead of relying on God to sustain you. Usually this involves food, but Isaiah 58 clearly points out that fasting is not merely a ritual involving food, but an opening of our hearts to God's heart.
I spent much of the day in a hospital waiting room and doing various errands with a friend. We visited some kind people (grandparents of my friend) and I felt I should accept any offer of their hospitality as refusing food from them would have been rude and pretentious (at least in my mind). When we finally arrived home after a long day at the mercy of the medicare system, my friend prepared a wonderful salad for me and I ate it with relish as my energy was dipping quite low. I wondered if I should be feeling guilty while all my fellow fasters were going without food, so I asked God what this day of fasting was all about? Had I accomplished anything or had I failed miserably?
The phrase, "Not with your own hands," rang clearly in my head. None of the food I had eaten had been prepared or procured by my own hands. God is trying to teach me not to rely on what I can do with my own hands, but to accept whatever comes from his hands, in whatever form or by whatever means it comes. My fast was to give up my self-reliance and making things happen for myself. This is also what he is teaching me about our church. It must be built by his hands. If it is to be of any eternal value, it must always be his efforts instead of mine. That way the results will look so much more like him and so much less like me. And that's a good thing.
This wonderful lily, a gift from my friend Erika, just burst into bloom this week.

Comments

Shelley said…
that is a cool perspective on a fast. not with your own hands. and on church too...why is it that we are only willing to let go of doing something if it is failing?

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

theology from the margins: God of Hagar

Our contexts have major implications for how we live our lives and engage with our world, that much is obvious. However, we sometimes overlook how much they inform our concepts of God. For those of us occupying the central or dominant demographic in society, we often associate God with power and truth. As a result, our theology is characterized by confidence, certainty, and an expectation that others should be accommodating. For those of us living on the margins of society, our sense of belonging stranded in ambiguity, God is seen as an advocate for the powerless. Our theology leans more toward inclusivity, and we talk less about divine holiness and righteousness and more about a God who suffers. On the margins, the priority is merciful and just action, not correct beliefs. 
There are significant theological incongruences between Christians who occupy the mainstream segment of society and those who exist on the margins. The world of theology has been dominated by Western male thought…

the movement of humility

We live in a context of stratification where much of society is ordered into separate layers or castes. We are identified as upper class, middle class, or lower class. Our language reflects this up/down (superior/inferior) paradigm. We want to be at the top of the heap, climb the ladder of success, break through the glass ceiling, be king of the hill. This same kind of thinking seeps into our theology. When we talk about humility, we think mostly think in terms of lowering ourselves, willfully participating in downward mobility. This type of up/down language is certainly present in biblical texts (James 4:10 is one example), but I believe that the kind of humility we see in Jesus requires that we step outside of a strictly up/down paradigm. Instead of viewing humility as getting down low or stepping down a notch on the ladder of society, perhaps it is more helpful to think in terms of proximity and movement.

Jesuit theologian, James Keenan, notes that virtues and vices are not really…