Saturday, December 16, 2017

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Lenten Reflections on Food

We talk a lot about fasting during Lent. We may ask each other, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Or, “Are you fasting today?” Fasting is an important and under-developed spiritual discipline. I often hear that people are intimidated with the thought of fasting for 40 consecutive days. And of course, it’s not easy! But one of features of traditional fasting during Lent is that on Sundays, you break the fast. If you weren’t aware of that, I hope you might be encouraged to take the opportunity to fast in some way during Lent.

Perhaps because of my love for food, I find fasting to be one of, if not the most, important spiritual discipline. Fasting has always helped me focus on and hear more clearly from the Lord.

So, encouraging you to fast during Lent may be a strange way to introduce the “Love Feast” or “Agape Meal” – a traditional fellowship meal that recalls the meals Jesus shared with the disciples during his ministry on earth – except that we have opportunities on Sundays to explore this rich, ancient practice.

The Love Feast is closely related to The Lord’s Supper, especially in its focus on the healing of relationship, but it has some distinctly different characteristics:

• It is an intimate bonding time for churches and discipleship groups
• It is used during times of significance and/or celebration
• It usually involves a full meal
• The group or groups are seated around a table together, often in a home
• It can be facilitated by any believer
• Prayers, songs, testimonies, scripture passages, etc. are shared
• Left over food is often shared with those absent or in need

Food is one of God’s great gifts to us. It is sacramental in The Lord’s Supper, voluntarily doing without it is a key spiritual discipline, and sharing it together is foundational to fellowship. Consider hosting or using a meal as a Love Feast with your family, friends or discipleship group during Lent, Holy Week or Easter this year.