This is the last entry for the Lenten diary my friend and fellow pastor wrote about his fasting experiences during Lent. I appreciate all of the feedback given during these last seven weeks and have passed on all of the encouragement to my friend. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, March 31, 2018 Holy Saturday
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. -Book of Common Prayer
Tonight at the Great Vigil, sometime around sunset which marks the end of the day, the Gospel of St. Mark chapter 16:1-8 will be read and will be the first of many proclamations of the empty tomb and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. While I won’t eat immediately after the gospel reading, that moment marks the end of my period of fasting and transitions into not only the greatest day of the year, but also a period of feasting. We are moving into celebration soon. Easter is the best.
I thought I’d just reflect briefly on some things I’ve really appreciated this year during my fasting. I have had some good family time, especially with the kids, teaching them not only about fasting – which is an annual occurrence for them to witness now – but also encouraging my older ones as they give up things for Lent, explaining to my youngest what my prayer book is and having him sit on my lap during a few prayer times. We have especially honed in on the story of Jesus the past few weeks during bedtime and we will read from “The Jesus Storybook Bible” which is outstanding. We tell the story. And then we tell it again. You see, I want this story of Jesus and his love and victory to be THE story that defines who they are. I love their questions and comments. My youngest telling me his favorite picture in the Jesus Storybook Bible is the one with Jesus on the cross. My others asking me questions about Judas and why he did what he did. You can do these sorts of things without fasting, of course. We do faith focused things around bedtime all year round. What fasting does for me, however, is to set this time apart. This time is special. I’ve appreciated my prayer times. I am able to be consistent in prayer during my fasts in a way I am not able to in other times of the year. I will attempt to continue some sort of continual prayer throughout the day, but fasting adds a discipline that I so badly need. The result of this is that currently I feel at peace with God even in the midst of the busiest time of the year for me at work. In fact, I feel an abiding joy and great anticipation for Easter. Another thing I am appreciating right now is the journey I’ve made with my back pain. It has hampered my ability to work. I’ve had to lay down in my office, or walk around, or stretch out. I’ve had several doctor’s appointments where they don’t seem to be able to keep my back aligned properly. Nonetheless, I continue to think of how God’s grace is sufficient for me and I am less angry about my back pain now than I was before. I am not “there” yet – as in, I have not arrived. But I do think I have grown not in spite of the pain, but probably because of it. That is a surprise.
This will most likely be my last entry for this journal. I do hope it helps you to consider the ancient Christian discipline of fasting and the work the Holy Spirit does through it. But I hope above all that the joy and power of Christ’s Resurrection envelopes and overwhelms you, and that the transforming and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit fills you to full and over flowing and that the richest blessings of God the Father are yours now and forever.
Have a blessed Easter, for He is Risen!