Rescue Mission vs. Lent

Something about this logic seems fishy:

Creighton University’s Online Ministries program, “Praying Lent 2017,” says the purpose of fasting is to “experience the effects of not eating. It also serves to be a penance or a sacrifice for the purpose of strengthening us.”

“When we get hungry, we have a heightened sense of awareness,” it adds, noting that the practice helps people to clarify their thoughts. “It is purifying and prepares us to pray more deeply,” the resource from Jesuit-run Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, points out.

By that logic, those Christians who go to rescue missions to conduct a worship service for and serve a meal to the homeless should put worship before food. But the way I experienced it, when our youth group helped out with rescue missions in Philadelphia, we served the meal first because the idea was that someone who is hungry could not concentrate on the message of the gospel. But if Creighton’s counsel is right, that kind of hunger heightens spiritual awareness and a sense of the need for the gospel.

Am I right?

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32 thoughts on “Rescue Mission vs. Lent

  1. From the article:
    True:
    -Jesus says when we fast, not if
    – fasting is meant to draw participants into deeper prayer
    -Fasting is heavy artillery,” he added because the person doing it is denying themselves something and trusting that God will use it.
    Not so true: fasting is required, necessary during Lent

    Note from the article : Rice, who is giving up riding elevators for Lent, said the Catholic college students he works with typically give up a food or social media. “They won’t give up texting. That would be like giving up breathing,” he added.
    !

    from ligonier.org- fasting article search:
    -Scripture often links the spiritual discipline of prayer to fasting
    -most common oversight is to fast without a clear biblical purpose-there are at least ten purposes in Scripture for fasting, and most relate to prayer- So your hunger actually serves you during a fast in that it is a constant reminder about your biblical purpose, in this case to pray.
    -error on one side: failing to fast at all, and on the other: fasting with confidence in the work of fasting rather than in the work of Christ.
    -reminds us of our creatureliness and moves us to learn better what it means to depend on our Creator, thereby glorifying His name

    Note from articles:.Perhaps we would see the Lord move more mightily in the church if we fasted more often.
    !
    .

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  2. “Perhaps we would see the Lord move more mightily in the church if we fasted more often.”

    Ali, how about if Xians started having regard for the 2nd and 4th commandments — do you think that would help?

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  3. Ali, how about if Xians started having regard for the 2nd and 4th commandments — do you think that would help?

    Good point. Or how about #6 (and all of them, summed us as the greatest and second greatest),
    1 John 3: 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
    Matthew 15:18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders……..

    as one of those Ligonier fasting articles also reminded – Psalm 66: 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened

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  4. Darryl et al.,

    I really don’t get the allergy to fasting. It’s clearly biblical, which I would assume most Reformed could appreciate more so than other denominations. The one thing I respect about the Reformed tradition, and about a general approach to a grammatical-historical approach to Scripture is that it is very literal-historical. Well, literally-historically Jews (and Christ and His Apostles) fasted. There has never been a time in the history of Xianity when Xians did not fast. So it’s not that it’s a matter of salvation but a matter of practice. So whence the practice and for what reasons? If the Apostles did it and everyone from thence until the late 16th century, then something has to give. I have to assume (again, my ignorance of a normative Reformed approach to fasting is lacking–if such a “normative” thing exists in Reformed tradition) that there’s some sort of fasting in the Reformed tradition. So then what is that self-understanding of fasting? Obviously, fasting wouldn’t be commanded, but what is precisely is its telos?

    Is it the pietistic public showings of fasting that are distasteful? Is it because there is a perceived earning one’s salvation by fasting? I really don’t get it. There are so many opinions out there regarding the Reformed tradition (and I don’t know which to trust) and I’ve learned so much from Darryl and Sean in whatever I ask, that this is where I turn. Sorry.

    J

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  5. Is. 58
    1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
    2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
    3 Wherefore have we [B]fasted[/B], say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your [B]fast[/B] ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
    4 Behold, ye [B]fast[/B] for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not [B]fast[/B] as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
    5 Is it such a [B]fast[/B] that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a [B]fast[/B], and an acceptable day to the Lord?
    6 Is not this the [B]fast[/B] that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
    7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
    8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.
    9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
    10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
    11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
    12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
    13 If thou turn away thy foot from the [B]sabbath[/B], from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the [B]sabbath[/B] a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
    14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

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  6. “…the purpose of fasting is to “experience the effects of not eating. It also serves to be a penance or a sacrifice for the purpose of strengthening us.” Indeed, fishy. And definitely give ’em the food first and then the message. You can’t concentrate when you’re really hungry because you can’t get food anytime you want it.

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  7. Justin, no objection to fasting. It’s right there in the Confession of Faith (whether Presbyterians do it or not):

    5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.

    The objection is putting a time limit on it — Rick Warren’s forty days of purpose. What people do during Lent is actually something they should likely do the rest of the year. The Christian life should be characterized by repentance (penance).

    Plus, every darned week, Presbyterians order their affairs and give things up to prepare for Sunday.

    8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

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  8. Got it, Darryl. Thanks. “What people do during Lent is actually something they should likely do the rest of the year.” No doubt.

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  9. How about if evangelicals fasted from Shoney’s, Applebee’s, and their local Sizzler on Sunday afternoons and ate leftovers and deli pizzas from the refrigerator at home while not watching the Packers and the Cowboys…just like the Puritans? [cue passive-aggressive subtweety Ali juke]

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  10. CW,

    Is the reason Christians shouldn’t go out for meals on Sunday because it forces someone else to have to cook clean and serve( not able to observe Sunday rest)?
    I agree with you. Years ago before they were called “servers”, I waitressed for a company that was owned by a Pentecostal family and was made to work Sundays. They used to bring their whole brood in all gussied up and leave me with a messy table, a messy floor, and a Chick tract. Christianity was a big turn off then.

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  11. 2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

    2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

    2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this “festal gathering,” this “assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”125

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  12. I’m curious, so would you say that EO observance of 40 Days of Lent is a traditional practice based on the analogy of faith from either the OT or NT? In other words, the precedence is not the invention of men, but from man’s understanding of types in both the eastern and western church?

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  13. Susan,
    What is the difference between an “invention of men” and application of “man’s understanding” of types? I tend to think in concrete examples, so perhaps it would help me to see what you are getting at if you explain why Jewish authorities instituting various washings not already prescribed in the law wouldn’t be justified on the grounds that the practice was grounded in their understanding of types in their tradition? On the other hand, what do you understand Paul to be prohibiting when he forbids church leaders from enforcing particular holy days and seasons of fasting? I’m not really looking to get into to a debate about the legitimacy of Lent or whatever, I’m just looking for clarity on how you distinguish between these things.

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  14. Hi sdb,

    Good questions:) And I’m not sure I can answer them, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an authoritative answer.

    Paul understood that the Mosaic Covenant was on its way out since the fulfillment had come and brought with it the age of the church, the age of grace. The what , why, and the how of the workings of this new institution would be confusing and up for grabs, if it didn’t also include a new authority to administer the sacraments in order that we could all receive this grace.

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  15. sdb,

    I have been watching some videos that I got by email for free, that are out for the season of Lent and they are very good explanations. I can share them with you.

    I mean, if an explanation makes more sense and illuminates more than one have ever gotten before then what reasonable person would continue to hold them at arm’s length?

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  16. Remember too that NT writers were using typology to interpret the acts of Jesus or some OT event, so while I don’t know the parameters, it’s obviously a legitimate way of reading.

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  17. Susan,

    “I’m curious, so would you say that EO observance of 40 Days of Lent is a traditional practice based on the analogy of faith from either the OT or NT? In other words, the precedence is not the invention of men, but from man’s understanding of types in both the eastern and western church?”

    Sure. The Church gives us fasting as a way of repentance. The Church isn’t man-made but a gift from God. From Darryl’s response to me above, I think he’d agree that fasting isn’t simply man-made, seeing as it as scriptural. Orthodox don’t simply fast for 40 days during Lent. We observe the Triodion (the first 3 weeks before Lent) and then don’t count Holy Week as fasting. So there’s something closer to 50+ days of a Lenten fast. But we also fast every Wed. and Friday. And also 40 days before Nativity. Plus an Apostles fast. No food or water after midnight on Saturday until communion on Sunday at around noon. I say all of this not to boast (anyone who knows me knows that I am a slob of the highest order) but just to give you an idea of what’s prescribed. So all of this adds up to 200 or so days of fasting, which I think is Darryl’s point. And I really, really think he’s spot-on here: “The Christian life should be characterized by repentance (penance)..” This is the crux of Orthodox fasting.

    So Darryl and I are on the same page somewhat (or quite a bit); he takes fasting as equally seriously but just not as often as I do. I have no problems with that and think that a consistent, rigorous fast throughout the year is a good thing, more fruitful than simply picking and choosing 40 days (and then picking and choosing what one gives up–not that I’m arguing that this is what the Catholic Church teaches what Lent is).

    I hope your Lent has been joyous thus far, Susan.

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  18. Justin your name was well chosen, you are an equitable man, and very likable, I don’t care how much of a slob you are:)

    I don’t think I could last long on your fast of your tradition! And that’s part of the point I meant; that is, that whatever our “traditions”, fasting is taught in scripture and practiced in one way or another in each respective tradition What I don’t understand is why anyone knocks it because of there also being prescribed days. If the church is fasting over a certain person, then that means everybody. We( you and I) can choose to fast other days outside of the prescribed days, of course, but there is also nothing wrong with doing so with the family of God.

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  19. Sorry, some clarity: “We observe the Triodion (the first 3 weeks before Lent) and then don’t count Holy Week as fasting.”
    ***We don’t count Holy Week as part of the 40 days of fasting. It’s its own entity, with fasting as rigorous as the first week of Lent (Clean Week).

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  20. I’d be interested in learning the aspects of your Lent and the reason for the degrees of rigor within.

    Some clarity from me as well:

    “What I don’t understand is why anyone knocks it because of there also being prescribed days. If the church is fasting over a certain person, then that means everybody. ”

    Rather, ” What I don’t understand is why anyone knocks it for the reason that there are prescribed days. If the church is fast during a certain period, then that means everybody fasts. But it doesn’t mean that you also can’t fast and prayer when you want to.”

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  21. Susan,

    Hmm, well, I’ll see what I can do in brief.

    As regards to the rigor: in general, there are times biblically when fasting is more rigorous than others (i.e., within Judaism), and I imagine this got passed down, most especially when monasticism became infused within the Constantinian Church.

    For practical considerations (if I understand you correctly): the first week of Lent (Clean Week) two meals will be taken–one on Wednesday night (after Liturgy) and again on Friday (after Liturgy). Interestingly enough, even lax Orthodox try to observe the severity of this first week (in whatever ways they can). This same rigor is followed during Holy Week (the week preceding Pascha). Once “regular” Lent begins, those who are able, eat a meal/day, and this meal will be without olive oil, wine, meats, or cheese. We do this every day in Lent. Those who can’t, will have more than a single meal but will abide by the dietary restrictions. Some days we have oil and wine, a few days with fish. But with modern technology, one can cheat easily, so one abides by the spirit of the fast (for repentance and to discipline and seek to control the passions).

    During the year, one fasts the way in which one is able. One abides by the dietary restrictions but each with the rigor which one is able. But there really isn’t picking and choosing what one wishes to give up–except for small children. Once a child reaches the age of 10 or so, he or she can find plenty of nutrients in nuts and what not, so they can abide by the fast.

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  22. @susan thanks. Agree on NTuse of types. Not sure that any parallel counts as a type – I’ve not seen a compelling case for making the identification of types as an exegetical method. Novel revelation by the hs through the writers of scripture is not sufficient in my mind for establishing a general exegetical method.

    I suspect the reformed reticence about prescribed days of fasting, holy days of obligation, etc… is grounded in Paul’s explicit instructions to the Colossians with an assist from Romans 14:5. Fasting is good. Telling people what they may and may not eat on Friday is an abuse of ecclesiastical authority.

    Prots do largely under commit to fasting. But more than a few rcs are using lent as an excuse to shed winter weight in preparation for spring break – or so it was advertised at nd in the student gym. Seems to me to be missing the point.

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  23. Sorry, I should note a practical detail: all of my children by the age of four will observe the Eucharistic fast and not eat from midnight Saturday night (they’re in bed by 8:30ish) until they take communion Sunday at noon. They don’t starve, and we explain the whys (because they were born into an ethnic ghetto and this is what we do, so shut up).

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  24. Hi again sdb,

    I’m glad when we agree:)
    ” Novel revelation by the hs through the writers of scripture is not sufficient in my mind for establishing a general exegetical method.”

    This is something I don’t understand. The reason being is that we can read and see that there were things, though not clear to everyone and needed the Holy Spirit to illuminate, were clearly recognized by people of the NT as they read the Old Testament into the New Covenant. As I said, I have been watching some wonderful videos, but consider 1 Peter 3 around vs. 18[-21. He sees the salvation of the 8 souls on Noah’s Ark as a type for the NT sacrament of baptism. because it unites the person to Jesus.by virtue of His Resurrection.

    “I suspect the reformed reticence about prescribed days of fasting, holy days of obligation, etc… is grounded in Paul’s explicit instructions to the Colossians with an assist from Romans 14:5. Fasting is good. Telling people what they may and may not eat on Friday is an abuse of ecclesiastical authority.”

    I tink you are right about Reformed reticence. To tell the truth, I bristled over this a bit. but then I also knew that many of the things that affected Israel happened to them corporately. Like I said before, since Jesus really did found a church and that church instituted holy days like Easter and Christmas, then I don’t find it a problem to also fast with the church family. It’s hard in some ways, but good and helpful,

    Prots do largely under commit to fasting.

    That’s an interesting statement. Relative to EO and Catholics?
    For me, I wanted not only to understand the quantity and frequency but the salutary effects( IOW, why?) Once I could understand that, I believed I would understand the importance of frequency.

    Nice talking with you sdb. 🙂

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  25. cw l’unificateur says: [cue passive-aggressive subtweety Ali juke]

    ok. You asked.

    Don’t forget
    1) to change your clock for Sunday and
    2) D.G.Hart says 8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after ….

    due preparing of their hearts

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