Summary: The fifth sermon in the 2007 Lenten Series
(Slide 1) A public reading of Isaiah 55:1-7 followed by a dramatic reading entitled ‘Christ on Trial: Witness: John’ written by Elsa L. Clark, Peter Mead, Arden Mead and Mark Zimmermann. © 2007 Creative Communications for the Parish.
Several weeks ago I got sick and spent a day and a half at home on the mend. I was frustrated by being home because there was a lot to do and I did not have time to be sick! But that time turned out to be a very valuable experience for me because I was able to do some serious reading that the Lord used to call my attention to some ‘cravings’ in my life that needed to be addressed. More about what I mean in a moment.
In one book of the books that I read, Soul Feast, by Marjorie Thompson, I was reminded of the importance of fasting during this season of Lent. (I would remind us that ‘fasting’ is a spiritual discipline of giving something up, like food or TV, for a certain period of time for, among other things, the purpose of growing closer to God.) She makes a case that in giving things up like ‘chocolate, popcorn, chewing gum, or other food frivolities’ what we have done is to participate in ‘the trivialization of a very profound discipline.’ ‘Lent,’ she says, ‘is not a six-week inconvenience in an otherwise abundant year, during which we have to somehow please God with voluntary if minor suffering.’
She goes on to note that in the early history of our faith Lent ‘was understood as an opportunity to return to normal human life… as we recognize that ‘the discipline of fasting has to do with the critical dynamic of accepting those limits which are life-restoring.’ By the time I finished that chapter, I felt God speak to me and say ‘you need to fast from such and such until Easter,’ because I was made aware that I needed to create more space for God in my life by fasting from things (other than food) which brings me to our main text for this morning that I want to re-read to you.
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!
“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David. He displayed my power by being my witness and a leader among the nations. You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”
Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
One of the challenges of fasting not just during Lent but anytime of the year is that we become aware of our cravings. And in my fasting I have become aware of my cravings which have often caused me to lose sight of God. During this period of fasting, I am very grateful however, that space has been created in my heart and mind for God to speak to me in several different areas of my life that need some attention.