Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fasting and Feasting

As I was reading yesterday to continue preparing for the sermon series on Sabbath that continues Aug. 13 and Aug. 20, I was struck by Marva Dawn's contention: we don't know how to feast because we don't know how to fast.

I have been trying to fast on Fridays (the day Jesus was crucified) for about the past month, and I was fasting when I read this. I guess my fast accomplished one its purposes: I paid more attention to something God wanted to communicate.

I have been trying to do a traditional fast from dinner to dinner. Basically, it is fasting through breakfast and lunch and then eating dinner. The past two weeks I have had to modify this because of an antibiotic I am taking that requires food in the morning. I have to admit that I have been ridiculously grateful for the excuse! God definitely has more work to do in me.

Food tastes SO GOOD on Friday nights. I cannot get over how much I enjoy eating on Friday nights. That is the point that Marva is making. If we live with simplicity through the week, and then feast on the Sabbath with special foods, we discover a new depth and meaning to feasting. She makes the point that Americans eat special food all of the time. As a result, the only thing we can think of for feasts like Christmas is to eat more. But when we live more simply, and even fast during the week, the Sabbath feast is truly a feast, a celebration of God's creation and abundance. It is a time to celebrate God providing for our needs and to honor God by making the day special with a feast. Also, it puts us in touch with those who are truly hungry and starving, because through fasting and feasting, we are able to identify with their experiences.

Feasting is also one of the dominant images for the Kingdom of God in Scripture. Jesus describes the Kingdom using feasting language, rooted in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) understanding of feasting. To have a deeper understanding of feasting is to experience a foretaste of what is to come. As Marva points out, it is a way of allowing the mystery of God to seep more deeply into our souls.


  1. What a thought provoking post.

    As an Americian (not particularly wealthy by U.S. standards, certainly blessed) I have the luxury of choosing to fast. Fasting as a luxury, that's something most of us don't consider. I'm so grateful for that when there are so many who do not get to choose to go hungry day after day. I keep thinking about fasting as I face major spiritual hurdles in my life, but always find an excuse not to begin.

    So my family hasn't been fasting, but have simplified our eating patterns and begun recognizing food as nourishment for our bodies. Even through we still have abundance daily, I believe it has brought us a greater awareness of those who are hungry. And it has called us to reach out to them.

    The idea of a sabbath dinner or feast with some special & meaningful foods is something I've been thinking about a few times over the last few months. Perhaps it's time to seriously consider it.

    So fasting & feasting have both been on my mind separately...perhaps I really need to look at them together. I think you (and Marva) are right, together they mean so much more.

  2. Don't know if I have said this, but I have really appreciated your postings on the Sabbath.

  3. Thank you chartreseova and revabi