Why We Fast Meditation: The Gift of Repentance
There are actually countless reasons to fast and I will be sharing some articles on our website this week about why we fast and stories of people in the Bible who fasted as well as helpful tips to start fasting if this is your first time ever. So look for those things to keep you motivated in this season of Lent.
But tonight I want to look at one more reason Joel gives us to fast. Joel says in 2:1 that the day of the Lord is coming so we should “return to the Lord, our God for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (v 13 paraphrase).
Joel calls the people to fast as an act of repentance. Repentance is simply turning around. Doing the Hokey Pokey. Turning ourselves around and back to God. Repentance is about saying: God, you are God. You are the master of everything. You are the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. And I am not. I am a creature while you are the Creator.
Our the ancient practice of receiving ashes on this night says to us: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Fasting gives us the gift of repentance because it reminds us to not take ourselves too seriously. We were formed from clay, just like Adam and Eve and someday our bodies will go back to the ground. We live on only because of the Lord Jesus Christ who defeated sin and death and rose again. We have no power over our own lives. We cannot add a minute to them by worrying about them.
So, we fast to remember we are weak. We feel that weakness when we do not eat. We struggle to keep ourselves from the things that we have promised to give up and recognize the struggle. We fast to keep us focused on God who is the one who gifts us with our very breath.
We fast for repentance. We confess that we need God. We turn our lives back to God again and again. [Invite the congregation forward for the imparting of ashes.]