Lent begins today, as does the forty-day period of fasting. We fast as a spiritual practice with the intention of coming closer to God. We exchange our normal habits for diligent abstinence from any agent that hinders our reliance on God.
For some of us, as the text admonishes, this fast becomes not a way to be closer to God but rather a self-serving way to compete with one another. God recognizes when our fasts serve only our own interests, and God will not be fooled.
Today’s reading presents a new type of fasting: one that God initiates and appears to practice in perpetuity. God’s fast derives from God’s ubiquitous love for all humankind and is exemplified by the Christian values of equality and equity. God makes clear that fasting from material things is not enough. Rather we might fast from our innate internal manifestations of “isms” that block God from our lives and prevent or pervert our carrying out justice.
God’s fast, which is particularly interested in loosing, undoing, breaking, sharing, housing, covering, exposing, enlightening, healing, vindicating, and glorifying, yields fruit. What would happen if we adopted God’s type of fasting; if we ceased practicing racism, classism, sexism, and exclusionism? What if we, as this passage notes, refrained from pointing fingers or blaming or pursuing our self-centered wills and instead pursued God’s will? Perhaps that is the metanoia God invites us into during Lent. This season we can turn our will and eyes from judgment of one another toward love and tolerance for all people in pursuit of deep spiritual change in our lives.
Lord, help me change my heart as I turn from judging others to loving and serving all your children. Amen.
The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.
• Read Genesis 9:8-17. When in loss have you experienced a new beginning?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you remind yourself of your covenant with God?
• Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you given up privilege in order to work for justice?
• Read Mark 1:9-15. When did you last hear God speak these words to you: "You are my . . . beloved; with you I am well pleased"?
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