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Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO
www.peacemennonitechurch.net (under construction)
Meditation and thoughts follow the scripture.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.*
Burnt-offering and sin-offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.*
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.’
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
11 Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe for ever.
12 For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
14 Let all those be put to shame and confusion
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonour
who desire my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God.
12 Listen to me, O Jacob,
and Israel, whom I called:
I am He; I am the first,
and I am the last.
13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
they stand at attention.
14 Assemble, all of you, and hear!
Who among them has declared these things?
The Lord loves him;
he shall perform his purpose on Babylon,
and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
15 I, even I, have spoken and called him,
I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.
16 Draw near to me, hear this!
From the beginning I have not spoken in secret,
from the time it came to be I have been there.
And now the Lord God has sent me and his spirit.
17 Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you for your own good,
who leads you in the way you should go.
18 O that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your prosperity would have been like a river,
and your success like the waves of the sea;
19 your offspring would have been like the sand,
and your descendants like its grains;
their name would never be cut off
or destroyed from before me.
20 Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it forth to the end of the earth;
say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!’
21 They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split open the rock and the water gushed out.
The Question about Fasting
14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often,* but your disciples do not fast?’ 15And Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.’
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Apparently fasting was common as a religious observance at the time of Jesus. These days I hear of people fasting, but for health reasons.
The goal, it seems, would be to go without food for a day, inobservance of the suffering of others in one’s religious history. Jews might fast therefore in observance of the suffering of the slaves in Egypt, or the hunger of Israel while wandering in the desert with Moses. For Christians, perhaps fasting will remind us of the suffering of Jesus on the cross. But I don’t think a day’s fast will suffice; missing a meal is not comparable to being executed by the suffocation of crucifixion (crucified victims die from suffocation, since they no longer can force their diaphragm to move up and down, and breathing becomes ever more difficult.
But I still think fasting is a good idea. For one thing, eating is a bad habit for most of the Western world. Taking a break from a bad habit helps us take another look at it. Health wise, fasting and drinking only clean water helps our body cleanse itself, although after a lifetime of Western food and abuse, it would take me more than a day to cleanse.
Still, we can do our best, and try to cleanse the body, while telling our physical existence to be more deliberate in our food choices, and to remind ourselves that we need only eat when hungry, normally, and not as a 3 time a day routine.
And more importantly, take a day of fasting on occasion to also cleanse your spiritual body. As I grow and think about my spiritual state and my spiritual beliefs, I invariably discover that I still believe things that are really racist, patriarchal, or just wrong. Fasting is good occasion to cleanse some of that stuff, too.
(Be careful when fasting. Consult with your doctor beforehand).