Our Lenten Fast

Posted on February 23, 2009 by ELCA World Hunger

Just about everyone on the World Hunger team has decided to abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays through Lent. I think I’m personally going to give up meat for the whole of Lent (Mary, are you still up for it?). I am actually very excited about it–we will use the fast as an opportunity to be in solidarity with those who never eat meat, we will explore ways in which we can consume less meat more regularly, and we will be able to share recipes and experiences, some of which will find their way onto the blog. (FYI, some of us will be using the new LWF cookbook, Food for Life, to help us with recipes.)

When I’ve told people of my plans, I’ve seen several reactions. Since fasting can be in some ways a foreign discipline to our consumer driven culture, I thought I would briefly share what has (and what has not) motivated me to give up meat for Lent.

First, I find that fasts break up the routine. In so doing, they help me to live more intentionally, to be more present. For example, in the coming weeks when I find myself wanting a hamburger, I will use that opportunity to remember those who are hungry, to offer prayers that they be filled, and to remember my own dependence on God.
Second, I think that how we live our lives matters. It is great to give money to help in the fight against hunger (and your gifts in the current economic climate matter more than ever). That said, we also need to strive to live our lives in ways that do not exacerbate global hunger. I have spoken on this blog about the ways in which over consumption of meat in the U.S. impacts the availability of food. I see this as a way to explore in my own life how I can eat less meat (honestly, I’ve never tried to go meatless and I’m not sure how I will go about it–I better start researching!).
Third, this is not about piety. My colleague Rodger Prois reminded me of the Small Catechism, where Luther reminds Christians that “Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, ‘given for you’ and ‘shed for you for the forgiveness of sin,’ is really worthy and well prepared.” A fast then is not a way to find particular favor with God or to gain some spiritual authority that can be wielded over less committed persons of faith.

From the length of this post (and its meanderings), I suspect you can tell that I’m still working to articulate my ideas on the whole thing. I welcome your feedback and comments.

David Creech