I knew when Christmas was over, not because I was counting the days, it was because I started feeling hungry again. With so many temptations dotted around the house and in the fridge, it is so easy to overindulge. We have every intention of being careful and sensible, alas, we are but human.
‘Too much of a good thing’, is a well-worn phrase and we do not need reminding of its connotations. Like everything in life that is good for us we need to make the effort. God knows this only too well; remember he was tempted by Satan, who also knows this all too well.
With Christmas behind us our thoughts turn to Lent, the time during which we prepare for Easter. You will be familiar with the tradition of fasting during Lent. A time when we go without in order to appreciate what is to come and then celebrate with feasting (on chocolate mainly). Lent ends with a celebration that marks the fact that Jesus died and overcame death for each of us; for many people a celebration more important than Christmas when we remember Jesus’ birth. Interestingly, Advent
marks the period up to Christmas in the same way that Lent is the period before Easter, yet it is rare to hear of people fasting in Advent. In ancient times these two Christian celebrations and other significant events would be preceded with the sacrifice of fasting. The reward for fasting was a feast,
today we do not fast but indulge in the feasting.
This leads me to consider that not only do we fast by limiting what we eat, any sacrifice can be beneficial in helping us appreciate what is valuable in life. This is God’s way because it is referred to so often in the Bible, in fact seventy-seven times. Jesus himself fasted, though he never instructed
people to fast. Fasting was custom in the Jewish society that Jesus knew, and many commentators today argue that Jesus did not instruct on fasting because it was taken for granted as part of life.
We have gone without so much in the last twelve months. Times of tight restriction that was then eased and then tightened again. A pattern you could argue is not unlike fasting. I, and I am sure most of you would agree, have realised a deeper appreciation of all that I have. Like fasting, knowing good times are coming with good reason to celebrate, let us consider and remind each other of the hope we have in our freedom being just weeks away.
[Fasting is considered a healthy thing to do but please take medical advice before doing so.]