It has been a fruitful period of learning for us as a church to consider holiness. Not as a special virtue for us to aspire to; but as a fundamental calling and marker of all who would follow Christ. And therein lies the major clue – it is primarily not connected to our existing virtue or skill. Holiness is, in contrast, a recognition of our lives being transformed by Jesus of Nazareth. “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
More like Jesus, less like the world.
More deeply into life, less focused on ourselves
That’s what holiness points towards.
More recently, we’ve begun to study the sermon on the mount from Matthew chapters 5-7 as a framework for our continued reflection on holiness. The passage for this Pentecost week is from Matthew 6 and deals with prayer and fasting. There is much to be pondered and lived out in this passage. One of the things that strikes me anew is that Jesus doesn’t ask if you fast, but instead says “when you fast”… Fasting has long been considered a core practice of the Church, but one that for a variety of reasons has become less and less familiar to us.
Today, we’ve put before our congregation that challenge of taking up a small weekly commitment to prayer and fasting. Each person and each family will choose to tackle this in their own fashion, wrapped into their own rhythms of life. However the challenge remains for all of us to find a way into this discipline.
As a way to assist you in approaching the discipling of fasting, we’ve attached a couple of resources to spark your thinking.
First up, this is a great summary of a wonderful book, “Fasting: the Ancient Practices” by Scot McKnight. Both the book and the summary are great at kicking off thoughts and possibilities around this spiritual practice.
Secondly, here is an important, if basic Patheos article on simply tips in starting fasting.
Next is an article by Richard Foster that got my thinking and praying going on this sometime ago.
And last, but most exciting, is this resource created by our great friend James Aaron. Spiritual Disciplines week 3
I pray that these are helpful starters for you as we explore together what it means to listen more intently to what God has to say to us.