A Lenten Meditation: For fasting and fellowship.
Sometimes I wonder what archaeologist and anthropologists would think about our culture if they dug up ruins of 21st century America thousands of years from now.
What would they think we value?
Who or what would they think we worship?
Big box stores surrounded by fast food chains.
Starbucks on every corner.
Sit-down deals for a nice dinner out dotting our downtown landscapes.
Our lives are completely saturated with food. So much so that American’s throw nearly half of it away.
$165 Billion from cart to fridge to trash annually.
While we have brothers and sisters literally starving to death around the world and in our own backyards.
952 million people today are hungry.
49 million of these are Americans.
Every five seconds a child will die due to hunger related causes.
…and the average American throws half their food away.
If food is not a idol that has blinded us, I don’t know what is.
We plan our days around it.
We hoard it.
We over-consume it.
We turn to it when we are sad or lonely.
True fasting is to share your share your food with the hungry.
The idea of a fast has been largely lost by the church and the scraps of the discipline that have survived often miss the mark of what is intended for fasting.
I don’t think Isaiah is telling the Israelites to not fast any more.
I also don’t think Isaiah is telling the Israelites to fast when they are about to make an important decision…
…or have a major pray request
…or for a youth group event
I think he is calling them deeper.
A physical fast with spiritual implications.
Abstaining from one thing so that we might be filled with another.
In many ways, fasting may be one of the most counter cultural actions we can take as believers.
It sends the message to the idol of food society has erected that he is not king any more.
It forces us to confront our own frailty and weakness.
It rejects the idea that scarcity and going without is something we should fear.
…and it just may free us up to share what we have with those who need it most.
But there is another type of starvation prevalent in this world today.
We are starved for each other.
We are more connected, but find ourselves in less actual community than ever before.
We can read the status updates, look at the photos and condense our days down to 140 characters or less and feel as though we’ve interacted with the world when really, we’ve just blasted some feelings out into the void of cyberspace.
“True fasting is to provide the poor wanderer with shelter.”
What if we killed two birds with one stone?
What if we ate together? Shared our food and our space and our lives?
Really, we are not so unique as humans
we are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons.
One big cosmic family of sorts. We all belong at this table. Sisters and brothers all wandering this world together. The same Creator singing the irresistible song of redemption over us.
True fasting is to not turn away from your own flesh and blood.
Do they have flesh? Is there blood in their veins?
Then don’t turn away.
What if you invited your neighbors over?
What if you bought lunch for the homeless woman you walk by each day and then ate with her.
What if we dared to not just throw money at an issue and instead sat down and ate dinner with it?
Perhaps we would realize the “issue” is a person with gifts, dreams, talents and a story.
When is the last time you took a break? When you said “no” to the god of food?
When is the last time you sat down with someone else?
When you said “no” to the lie that isolation is strength?
When you took time to see the bigger picture? That we are all in this life together? No matter what differences may try to fool us into thinking we should be apart.
“Is [true fasting] not to share your share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
…and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Hunger stats from Bread for the World.