This Sunday evening, after having gulped down one last slice of Super Bowl pizza, and having washed it down with one last Super Bowl beverage of choice, the Southlands community will embark on a fast. Not that a slice of pizza is a wise final food choice before fasting, but I can't see to many having vegetable broth at their Super Bowl Parties. That said, we will do a liquid fast - water, juice and thin soup if needed (did I say 'thin'?) from the evening of the 3rd of February until the evening of the 6th February. For the Spartans among us, we are doing it like this to get maximum community participation. If you would prefer to fast on water, be our guest!
We'll meet together Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 630pm at the Gallery for an hour to worship and pray. On Wednesday night at 630pm we will break the fast with a community feast and then worship together afterwards. I want to call each one of you who call Southlands home, to join us for this catalytic moment in God.
You may be asking, "But why fasting?" Is it a guilty purge after a Christmas binge? Or maybe an attempt to please God so that He blesses us in 2013?
To be honest, both thoughts have crossed my mind, but really, it's none of the above. When the Pharisees asked Jesus why He and His disciples never fasted He replied, "When the bridegroom is here, the guests of the bridegroom do not fast.
But a time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away and then they will fast." (Mark 2:20) With these words He's showing us how and why we fast.
The fact is, that Jesus the Bridegroom has come to us. He loves us so much that He paid the bridal price for us with his own life. Here is the critical difference between fasting as ritual and fasting as sacrament.
We don't fast to try and win His presence or His pleasure. We fast with joyful confidence, knowing He has come to us and is well pleased with us.
This is how we fast.
Here's the thing though. Although Jesus has come to us and given His life in payment for us, he has in fact been 'taken away.' He has ascended to heaven and has not yet returned to make all things right.
This is why we fast.
We long for a tangible sense of His presence.
When we fast we're denying ourselves of food so that we can feast on Jesus.
We're asking for the Father to communicate the presence of Jesus to us in new and fresh ways by His Holy Spirit.
We are not satisfied knowing about Jesus. We want to Know Him.
We want to abide in Him and for His words to abide in us.
We want to remember that apart from Him we can do nothing.
We also fast and pray for a progressive advance of His rule and reign here on earth. We live between the inauguration of His Kingdom and it's fulfillment. Between the now and the not yet. We do not yet see all things under His feet, and yet we know that He will one day fully rule. Fasting mysteriously moves the hand of a Sovereign King. He extends the scepter of His rule over sin, sickness, demonic oppression, and humanity's general brokenness. His light shines in dark places.
Fasting also precedes Gospel Multiplication, and as a church on the cusp of starting another community, we want to underpin our plans with prayer and fasting. (Acts 13)
We ultimately fast longing for the day when He returns for us once and for all.
Jesus Himself is longing and fasting for that day.(Luke 22:18)
The day when we will never fast again.
The day when the unending feast can finally begin.