We’re in the middle of Lent, a season during which Christians of the past 20 centuries have fasted.
It’s interesting to notice what folks give up in this season of fasting. Orthodox Christians become vegans during Lent–they eat no meat or diary products. Roman Catholics become vegetarian–they eat no meat. What about American Protestants? Well, we’re not consistent in what we surrender. While the Orthodox give up meat and dairy and the Catholics give up meat, many of us give up facebook.
But there is some beautiful, creative and redemptive fasting going on now too. The United Methodist Church has called on people to give up alcohol for Lent. One good practice, which Cherie is doing once again this year, is to keep track of what she would’ve spent on during Lent, and donating it to Blood/Water Mission to help bring clean drinking water to Africa. In the past she and I have observed Not a Cent During Lent, by not buying anything during Lent. But we buy so little that just wasn’t a genuine sacrifice.
I like the idea of giving up something you never want back. One year Cherie gave up watching the news (which usually just made her angry and frustrated). By the time Lent was over she’d lost her interest in watching it and now we don’t even have television. I’ve done the same kinds of fasts (though not directly tied to Lent) and permanently walked away from fast food, for example.
Although the discipline of fasting can be greatly beneficial even if only temporary, the benefits are much greater when we edit out harmful or unnecessary things forever.