13 February 2013

Fasting and Lent

Lent is often seen as a time of giving something up as a way of focusing more on Christ (and his suffering), of practicing denial and longing, and/or being able to celebrate Easter more fully.

The community at Oudezijds 100 fasts by giving up desserts and meat (except fish) for the forty days leading up to Easter. The mealtimes are also held in silence, with music playing in the background. To be honest, except for the lack of dessert, lent is actually my favourite time of the year to eat with the community. There are a couple of reasons for that:
1. I don't have to worry about whether I'll know what to say to my neighbour during the meal.
2. I don't have to do anything extra to ensure that there'll be a vegetarian option available.
3. on Sundays, we do actually talk, as well as eat meat and dessert. And then it's a feast and extra special :)
So for lent, we'll hopefully eat with the community more often. At home, we'll join in somewhat, as we'll continue to go without meat, not have ice cream (but still have dessert), and go without alcohol.

Although joining in with what the community is doing is more than enough to help us look forward to Easter (Matthijs and I have weekend duties on Easter weekend, so that will definitely further help us live up fully to Easter), I still wanted to figure out if there was something that I personally could or should do (either more of or less of) during Lent. And going to chapel in the community more often was what came to me when I thought/prayed more about it. Closely connected to that is Matthijs's desire to do daily prayers more often.

The strange part of choosing to go more often to chapel during Lent is that it's not something I want to give up after Easter, as if when Easter comes, I am set free from doing this. So I had to wonder more about how going to chapel actually fits with Lent and fasting. I realized that while I now feel that going to chapel is a bit of a chore, I'm hoping that going more often during Lent will help me appreciate chapel more. Hopefully, by Easter time, going to chapel will become more something I delight in getting to do as often as possible.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

Richard Bodini, a friend of mine and pastor in Holland Marsh, Ontario, made the following comment (via Facebook) worth sharing further: "I wonder if this whole giving up something is totally accurate. Or have we modernists implied something that wasn't really happening. I wonder if what was/should be practiced in Lent is to do something that builds one up in order that they might continue that very thing after Easter has passed. Instead of withholding, you improve. You give up chocolate... in order to binge come Easter Sunday? That's dumb! You exercise your spiritual muscles by attending chapel services each day in order to continue that life of daily devotion and lectionary reading and reflection so that you can become closer to the one who saved you. That makes sense! I love Lent. May your season be a blessed one of reflection and growth in the love of your Saviour... and may that be worked on by learning to love your husband and your neighbours more."