Scripture: Philippians 2.3-5
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Reflection: Fasting and Feasting
By John Tillman
The one biblical feast most Christians know about is Passover or Pesach. This celebration is a combination of fasting and feasting. Families abstained from specific ingredients and indulged in others. Modern Jewish Seders are large, celebratory meals intended to be shared with guests and specifically the poor.
Christians have stripped this feast down to a cracker and a thimble.
This isn’t to say Christians have completely abandoned feasting. Liturgical churches designate many feasts and times of fasting throughout the year. Evangelicals have not completely abandoned feasting or fasting but have abandoned any structure or organization to their observance.
However, many Christians still don’t think of “feasting” as a holy activity. As much as we love potluck suppers and dinner-on-the-grounds, they are rarely held up as anything other than a social event. Even when meals are institutionally celebrated feasts, Christians of all denominations tend to speak of these celebratory meals with apologetic tones. Many an honored deacon or pastor has publicly prayed, “Lord, bless our bodies despite that of which we are about to partake.”
We shouldn’t flagellate ourselves much for misunderstanding and misinterpreting feasting and fasting. They have always been topics of controversy and religious struggle.
John the Baptist came fasting and Jesus came feasting, and both faced harsh critique. John was damned for doing it and Jesus was damned because he didn’t.
Many of the condemnations of the biblical prophets concern violations of the spirit of, if not the actual practice of, the festivals and feasts that God had established.
Like the Israelites’ celebrations, which went from being a trumpeted memorial before God to being something God despised, our fasting and feasting can easily become meaningless rituals that make us feel good about ourselves but are despised by God.
To prevent this we can’t allow the purpose of these observances to become obscured by the details of their practice. To do so robs them of any spiritual power.
Whenever there is a form devoid of spiritual power, law will take over because law always carries with it a sense of security and manipulative power. — Richard Foster
As we engage in feasting or fasting, during the season of Lent and beyond, may we not grow secure in legalistic, moralistic rules, but stay insecure, relying on God and seeking him more fervently than legalistic perfection.
Prayer: A Reading
Just at this time, some Pharisees come up. “Go away,” they said. “Leave this place because Herod means to kill you.” He replied, “You may go and give that fox this message: Look! Today and tomorrow and the next day I must go on since it would not be right for a prophet to die outside Jerusalem.” — Luke 13.31-33
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Full prayer available online and in print.
Proverbs 15 (Listen – 3:36)
Philippians 2 (Listen – 3:45)