As we enter into the season of Lent, I hope this becomes a time in which we “re-claim” and “re-imagine” the depth and richness of our spiritual traditions. While, many of us recognize Lent to be a period of fasting and reflection, there is a profound challenge that these disciplines call us into.
During Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, he was challenged to overcome emptiness, loneliness, a tired body, a weary soul. It was in this part of his journey that Christ encountered Satan, the face of disordered power, greed, hunger, and desire; it was in this time of fasting that Jesus was renewed in his innermost being and called to move beyond “worldly” ways of making change and taking power and into God’s work of reconciliation with humanity.
For those of us who consider ourselves followers of Christ, it is here in the desert and in the fasting that we are moved beyond ourselves. Like Jesus, we are called out of the desert and into the ministry of reconciliation. What is fasting if it does not lead to right relationship (righteousness and justice) with God and with the world? Isaiah 58:6 (click on the link for the full passage) reminds us of this call to justice:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?”
However, let’s remember that we are not called to work in vain. Nor are we a people without hope. As, Isaiah goes on to write:
8 “Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
One way, we here at The Abundant Table are hoping to enter more fully into God’s call to fasting this Lent is through the Solidarity Fast with Los Angeles Faith/Activism Collective and other college campuses around Southern California. In focusing on supporting immigrant families of Los Angeles and Ventura County, remembering our own migration story, and reclaiming the spiritual tradition of fasting, we seek to commit ourselves to the work of the Church that does not end at Easter, but continues in Christ’s victory over the grave and in the Hope of a future where “…all ate and were satisfied.”