The Feast of the Fast

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It is arguably the most pivotal moment in the Christian faith. Thick, rough wood planted in the infamous soil of Golgatha. The cross and Christ crucified. Each droplet of blood that fell was prophetic. For in this act, the cross was stuck in human history making a statement to sin, to death, to all things broken and corrupt “You Shall Not Pass!”

For many of us Lent is that time when we take a moment to stop and reflect on these truths – what they mean for me, for my community. And what better method that grabs our attention than fasting!  For a long while I thought that the point of Lent was fasting. However, a professor gave me some perspective, “Christians today only celebrate the feasting days of our tradition, Christmas and Easter.., they fully enjoy the food and festivity associated with feasting days, but no one practices the observance of the fasting days (Ash Wednesday, Good Friday…) of our tradition anymore.” That made me think- I was totally guilty of being one of ‘those Christians’. As I began to practice the fasting days, I came to understand a wonderful paradox – the fasting days are actually feasting days!! We fast so that we can feast on God’s banquet – his Presence, his heart, his mission!

A large part of partaking in the feast of the fast is prayer. Prayer allows us to just be, quiet and still. Prayer reminds us we are the Beloved. Prayer connects and re-focuses our hearts on Christ- who He is, what He has done, what He is doing now, where He is leading us. But prayer is also meant to be more for Christ-followers, let me explain…

I was watching the movie “The Lord of the Rings” and following the journey of the little band of friends on their way to Mordor. Unfortunately, they are forced to go through the Dwarfven Caves, a dark and dangerous place. They’ve already been in battle and are again fiercely fighting, when all of a sudden their enemies scatter, the shadows lengthen, the cavern becomes still and quiet until a steady rhythm signals a new and even more terrifying enemy. The Balrog emerges as a huge and fiery creature, with coal-like eyes and ox-like horns; he snorts fire and ferociously chases the group to the edge of open pits. Gandalf the wizard urges the group to quickly cross the cavern on a small pathway as he distracts the Balrog. But Gandalf does more than distract, with every ounce of authority and every fiber of his being, he draws himself to his full, erect stature, heavily plants down his rod in the center of the pathway and cries out in the most bold and powerful manner, “You Shall Not Pass!”

This scene has captured me and remains like a snapshot photo in my mind. It is such a vivid picture of prayer in a way that I hadn’t imagined. It is prayer on the offensive, it is prayer with great faith, it is prayer that knows the will of God, as revealed through the Scriptures. It is prayer that fights because it is rooted in Hope, the Hope that He is making all things new.

It led me to pray in a new manner. Alcohol is rampant in our community, it is a disease that is like an out-of-control virus and its grip is completely oppressive. As I see a man with a wheelbarrow carrying another man home in his drunken stupor, I cry out “Alcohol, you shall not pass in my neighborhood!”  A young teen stumbles into our yard where a group of boys are gathered for an athletic event. He swaggers in sporting his red rags and boasting about the bloody wound he is asking us to care for. He starts spouting his allegiance to the local Bulldog gang and doing his best to recruit from our group. “Gangs, you shall not pass in my neighborhood!”

We need to see a new generation of leaders rising up, leaders who will stand in the gap for their communities of need. Who will with love and justice cry out in prayer against the strongholds of oppression. A future kingdom is now breaking forth and is yet coming of no more tears, no more pain, and where perfect love finds its fulfillment as God and man dwell together.

So as you feast on prayer during your fast this Lenten season, I simply encourage you to walk through your community and with the authority you carry as a child of the King, the One who conquered death on the cross, cry out for your community – cry out songs of love and blessings and cry out against evil “You shall not pass.” For in Christ’s death and resurrection, a new way of life is possible.

BethThe Feast of the Fast

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