26 November 2011

Advent begins

with the setting of the sun this evening.  As one of the Church's penitential seasons, fasting is always appropriate during Advent.  Some suggestions:  remember Cassian's words that "the fathers have only one invariable rule of fasting:  stop eating before you are full;" think simple meals; since Wednesday and Friday are penitential days, maybe eat only a light breakfast and then skip lunch and after sunset have a simple, but normal sized dinner on those days; the Ember Days in Advent will fall on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete.

Lutherans, unlike other liturgically minded Christians, do not observe a distinction of meats - hence, there are no foods that we regard as "off-limits" during these days, as we joyfully confess that all things God created are good and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving.  Yet, moderation in food and drink - something we ought always to practice! - is certainly appropriately strengthened by seasons when we practice "cutting back" - i.e., going hungry for a bit.  Also, since the point of going hungry is not merely to train the body, but far more to provide extra time for prayer and money for alms (what you don't eat that day, you can give away!), a suggestion on any lunches or breakfasts you forgo is to spend the time in praying the Litany and some Psalms, and intentionally upping your charitable giving, particularly to those ministries that focus on feeding the hungry.

Again, unlike other liturgical traditions, Lutherans most certainly do not need to consult any "spiritual father" about such matters - rather, prayerfully, intentionally, and in your God-given Christian freedom embrace whatever practice you think would work well for you in these days.  Above all, clear the clutter - make some space in your life during these days of preparation for the Holy Spirit to do His joyful work through the Word and the Sacrament.  Make a special effort to attend the extra services.  To read in your Scriptures each day (USE that Treasury!), and enjoy the splendid feast that the Church in her love sets before you in these holy days.  You will come to the Christmas Feast with a peaceful and joyous heart.

Two caveats to certain readers:  Orthodox and RC, you do not need to tell me how the above is all wrong.  We know what you all think about such things.  God bless your own time of preparation; but don't hold us to your disciplines which we simply do not acknowledge.


Also, my beloved Past Elder, we do not need yet another lecture on your opinions about fasting... any reader of this blog already knows what you think of it.  Enjoy your Christian freedom and let the rest of us enjoy ours! 

13 comments:

Sage said...

Great suggestions. One of our favorite things to do during Advent is to pick charities or even people in need we might know of and give them equivalents of meals we've abstained/fasted. It's been such a blessing to do that over the years.

Petersen said...

Well said. Thanks.

George said...

That should be a standard disclaimer you have on all your posts. :)

tehazy said...

Thank you; nicely written.

David Garner said...

For what it's worth, I wouldn't think of second guessing your fasting disciplines. I'm frankly just happy you are fasting, and I have my own issues with keeping my own fast properly, so it wouldn't do for me to be worrying about your plate when my own is overfilled.

William Weedon said...

David G., with you it's never been an issue or a question.

Thanks all, for the kind comments.

Terry Maher said...

Odd. Any reader of this blog already knows your opinions about fasting, but yet another post on them!

Josh Osbun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh Osbun said...

As an infrequent reader of your blog, I appreciate you posting this. And since it is your blog, however much posting about fasting you'd like to do ought to be acceptable to anyone who voluntarily comes and reads!

(This is the same comment as what I deleted. I just wanted my new profile picture up there.)

Rich Kauzlarich said...

What a wonderful perspective for all of us as we enter Holy Advent -- whether we fast or not. Thank you.

Tim said...

Thanks, pastor. I appreciate the guidance of posts like this. During my past 12 years as a Lutheran, Advent has become one of my favorite seasons.

Your wise counsel to "clear the clutter - make some space in your life during these days of preparation for the Holy Spirit to do His joyful work through the Word and the Sacrament" is certainly increasingly counter-cultural.

As you know, not only before Christmas but also prior to Advent this year, our culture's "holiday" resulted in pepper spraying, shootings, riots, mayhem amidst the beep, beep, beeping of the checkout lines.

Thanks for your wise teaching here.

Blessings.

Pastor Peters said...

What? No castigation for having blue on the altar instead of purple? Oh, my... your commenters have given you a pass...

--helen said...

We are getting used to blue!
Our trees are up early, too, but with blue lights. They are double wired, so on Christmas Eve they will be white. :)