Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Joyful Fasting

"The word of the Lord of hosts came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, adn the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah: therefore love truth and peace."
--Zechariah 8:18-19

"By the time of Zechariah Jews practiced the four regular fasts mentioned in this passage.  In contrast to the fasts tied to mourning that we see in many other passages, these fasts are to be 'seasons of joy and gladness.'  Here we find an interesting conjoining of two Spiritual Disciplines not usually thought of as going together: fasting and celebration.

"Many of those who have fasted describe the experience in joyful terms.  Dallas Willard writes, 'In fasting, we learn how to suffer happily as we feast on God.'  Augustine of Hippo writes, 'In his fasting, therefore, let a man rejoice inwardly in the very fact that by his fasting he is turning away from the pleasures of the world to make himself subject to Christ.'"
--Richard Foster, "A Year with God"

Today is the last day of our focus on fasting.  How did you do?  Did you give it a try?  Did you learn new ways to look at - and embrace - the idea of fasting?  Are you less intimidated and scared of it?  I would love to hear your stories!

Beginning with Easter, we begin a month of Celebration!  As you near the end of your time of fasting - maybe this weekend (many of us, including the Sunday School kids are fasting Good Friday to Easter Morning) - think of your abstention as a joyful thank-you to God for a blessing in your life!

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