Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life in the fasting lane

This Saturday, if you listen closely, you might hear the rumble of more than one empty belly. Honor that rumble; it is a sign of devotion.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement that concludes the High Holy Days, begins at sundown on Friday. Observant Jews will fast from then until nightfall on Saturday. In prayers and worship, they confess their sins and are reconciled to God.

This year they will be joining the ongoing fast of Muslims, who are observing the month of Ramadan, a time for worship, reflection and good deeds. During Ramadan, which began this year on Sept. 13 (coincidentally, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana), Islam's faithful fast during the day, breaking their fast with a meal and visits with family and friends after sundown.

Deliberate hunger -- taken on as a means to grow closer to God rather than as a way to drop a few pounds -- is a radical choice these days. Self-denial goes against everything our consumer culture advocates. Care to supersize that order?

So I wonder if, when their bellies are rumbling together, Jews and Muslims might give a thought to what they have in common that day -- a desire to please God more than satisfy themselves.

I plan to join their fast on Saturday. And as I do, I will pray that our shared emptiness will remind all of us, whatever our creed, of our utter dependence on God for what truly nourishes us.

Care to join us?


D.J. said...

Fasting is a rare thing in our Western culture, and I think you get the reason why exacly right, Jane - consumerism. We are busy people, and much more apt to go get more than to go without. The Bible teaches that fasting is a valuable tool to neglect food for a time and spend that time in a deliberate focus on God. In our modern culture, I think we - and I know that I - often feel too busy to set aside that time. Sad that in a day when our time seems stretched more thin than ever, often the first things to get left out of the picture are the things that are most important. I pray that God would give me grace to turn that around in my life. Thanks for the encouragement!

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Eh, DJ, Bible also teaches one should kill homosexuals (Lev 20:13).

It doesn't mean we should listen to it, does it?

I think fasting was just a metaphor and shouldn't be taken seriously at this day and age.

D.J. said...


We must understand Scripture in its redemptive-historical context. Leveticus 20:13 was a law given for the OT theocratic nation of Israel, not for individuals today. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that was certainly not taken as a metaphor by the people in Scripture (including Jesus himself). Now, your comments indicate that you likely don't take the Bible as a whole seriously, in which case this discussion will be pointless. But if you do, what textual clues point to the fact that fasting is a metaphor. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Wow, of all Jane's posts, I thought that this would be the last one to start a debate.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

DJ, are you saying that OT is not for the individuals today?

So you are saying that Christians that think homosexuality is bad are not reading the Bible right?

What about incest? As far as I know it is only in the OT, not in the NT, so is this to not for the individuals today?

So one can pick and choose from the Bible?