Today is the first day of Lent and the beginning of a 40 day season of preparation to restore and renew us for the joy of the resurrection when we reach Easter on April 16. Anglicans follow three disciplines during the Lenten season: prayer, fasting, and giving to those in need. These three practices are patterned on Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 6:1-18 which you will hear read in our Ash Wednesday service.
If you were will us last Sunday you heard that we are asking the Restoration congregation to pray, fast, and give in a very specific way this year. Our inspiration comes from Isaiah 58, a reminder that fasting is not about our personal piety. Fasting is a spiritual discipline in our lives that becomes an instrument of justice and peace for the Lord.
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Please ask God to lead you to right fast for this season and commit to these three steps:
A. PRAY – Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to a person or group who is suffering and commit to pray for them throughout Lent.
B. FAST – Consider the life of those for whom you are praying. Choose a fast that will help you to identify with their situation.
C. GIVE – Offer whatever money, time, or other resources you save for the benefit for the person or group for whom you are praying.
We invite you to write your fast on one of the tags we have provided and hang it in the lobby area when you come to the Ash Wednesday service or for worship on Sunday.
Though Restoration members will all fast or abstain from different things during the season, it is our prayer that we will be united as a church in praying, fasting, and giving for the sake of others. Consider with your family, friends, or TIE group the kind of fast that God is calling you to take up during this season of preparation for Easter. If you have children at home, look for ways to get your whole family involved in this fast.
Your Isaiah 58 fast may look something like these ideas generated by Restoration members:
A If you support missionaries, learn about the people group they are reaching.
B Adopt a daily practice of that people group (diet, dress, cultural habit).
C Give a special gift to the missionaries for Easter.
A Pray for those who are fleeing injustice or persecution.
B Pack a suitcase with clothing and only wear those clothes during Lent.
C Donate excess clothing in good repair, or new purchases, to families resettling in the United States.
A Pray for those in our community who live in food insecurity.
B Commit to eat simply, for instance eat dinners that cost about $3 each throughout Lent (or about half of the daily SNAP allowance a person receiving food assistance).
C Give the difference from your grocery budget to Network.
I am eager to see how God uses this Isaiah 58 fast to shape us in this season. God is doing so much in our community around prayer and justice and it is my hope that our Lenten fast brings them together in a powerful way.
Join us these 40 days of Lent as we follow the pattern of Jesus who continuously offers prayers on our behalf, identified with us in our suffering and death, and gave his life in order that we might be set free.