Fasting, suggests Scot McKnight in his book on the topic, is a response to a “sacred grievous moment.”
For those of us enduring the assault of the daily news—the reports of refugee kids howling for lost parents, of neighborhoods devoured by climate-change-fueled infernos, of spiritual leaders raping the vulnerable—fasting is a faithful response.
Rather than allowing such news to simply hit our eardrums or eyeballs and fall away into the air, fasting responds with the body. Just as we lose our appetite at the news of a loved family member’s death, in fasting we recruit the body to grieve and mourn. We slow down and feel so that the constant bad news drumming on our soul doesn’t reduce it to a defended, hardened, insensible pulp.
Given the relentless torrent of bad news and the busyness of life, it may seem like a luxury to slow down and grieve it. But, fasting “from” removes something to gain us space. And fasting “for” points us to the good that God desires. The church has designated Lent as a time particularly dedicated to fasting and repentance. In the face of calamity, it is a way to turn to God in trust.
The cries of the poor, the pain of children, the suffering of creation—all of these are sacred and as we lament them we become more human. All of these are grievous (harrowing, sorrowful, appalling, heinous, deplorable). All of these are happening in our particular moment. Let us inhabit it as responsive children of God.
Here at Church of the Sojourners, we’ve come up with a practical plan that we are going to do together. Please see below for the details. Please let us know if you can to join us in this fast, or of other fasting ideas that you may have.