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February on the Way of Jesus: Fasting

This first appeared in the February 2021 newsletter.

The way of Jesus is more than just something we think and feel. It’s something that we experience. Experience is about being and doing. We are, we exist, but we don’t just exist in our thoughts and feelings. Instead, our thoughts and feelings are connected to our experience. What is it that we experience? Well it could be anything. It could be that first morning cup of coffee (one of my favorites). It could be the tug of a fishing rod, the warmth of the afternoon sun, or the crisp air of an autumn morning. What we experience outside of our bodies is unavoidably connected to what we think and feel.

This is why the way of Jesus is about what we experience and how we live. Our inner thoughts and feelings are connected to the type of life we experience, and all of thoughts, feelings, and experience converge in our beliefs about the world. If we believe we are called to live the way of Jesus, then we need to LIVE the way of Jesus.

How do we live the way of Jesus? Well, one of the primary way’s is by living life through the flow of the church calendar. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and now Lent. Each season encourages us to live within a certain context designed around invoking certain thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Advent was about anticipation. We waited to celebrate. We lit candles and sang hymns that reminded us of why we wait. Then the time of anticipation gave way to celebration during Christmas. We no longer needed to hold back our anticipation. Christmas then moved into Epiphany. A much needed break from the six weeks of holiday busyness.

Now upon us the is most strenuous time of the church calendar: Lent and Easter. Together these two seasons take up 25% of the yearly church calendar. This is, of course, by design. The way of Jesus is centered in the events of Holy Week and Easter morning. It only makes sense that we would take adequate time to both prepare for them (Lenten season) and reflection upon them (Easter season).

First is Lent: forty days of fasting, prayer, and study of scripture. Lent is meant to be a season of penitence. A time to reflect upon our sinfulness and need for salvation. This is why Lent has traditionally been a time of fasting. Fasting is inseparably married to penitence and repentance in the Bible. People fasted when they were sorry, when they needed to repent. Consider fasting this Lenten season as a way to experience the season. Prayer is closely associated with repentance. Central to prayer is recognizing that we need God’s way to become our way. Consider praying more this Lenten season as a way to experience the season. Finally, there is studying scripture. Scripture has a way of bringing us into the story of God. Consider spending more time in the study of scripture this Lenten season as a a way to experience the season.

I strongly encourage you to make the Lenten season a part of your daily experience. Just like a morning cup of coffee can help you wake up, fasting, prayer, and study of Scripture during the season of Lent could help you along the way of Jesus.

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