Today I had a partner-in-crime for my sermon. Chelsea has been our intern from Young Harris College all school year, working primarily with our children. Today, on her last Sunday, she helped me reflect on Jesus’ words in Mark 2:19-20…
Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
Fasting is inappropriate for times of celebration. My Lenten failure helped me to understand this little better. My goal was to fast one day a week. It seemed logical to do this on Friday, my day off – after all, no one wants to be visited by a “hangry” pastor. But it only took me two weeks to see that my spiritual discipline was a big downer on my day together with my kids. Fasting took the fun out of making blueberry pancakes, and basically eliminated any interest I had in walking down to the local frozen yogurt place. So, after two weeks, I called it quits – but I learned very well that fasting isn’t meant for times of celebration.
And when the bridegroom (Christ) is with is, we’re meant to celebrate.
Jesus didn’t have his disciples fast. They were with him. It was time to celebrate. As for today, Christ is *not* with us. Christ has been – as he predicted – “taken away” (2:20). Should we be fasting all the time?
I think the ups and downs of our church calendar reflect that the answer to that question is neither “yes” nor “no,” but “sometimes.”
Sometimes, we are very aware of the fact that Christ is not with us. Sometimes we are suffering, losing, mourning, or crying. Sometimes it feels like we ought to be fasting. Lent is a good time for that.
But sometimes, we are very aware of the fact that Christ *is* with us. Isn’t that what Easter teaches us? And in the life of the church, Easter goes on for 50 days. This is no time for fasting. It’s time to celebrate. Christ lives!
So do we fast? Yes.
And do we celebrate? Oh, yes.
Now is a time for celebrating. Easter is an occasion so big, so incredible, it can’t be done justice in just one day. So this year we’ll take 7 Sundays to sing “Alleluia!” and dress the church in white and fully acknowledge all that God has done for us.
But when you need to fast – when life is hard or sad or tough – then fast.
Just know that in eventually, the bridegroom is coming again… and when he does, we’ll do nothing but celebrate.
Thanks to Rev. Luke Lingle / Central UMC Asheville and Winter Retreat / FUMC Waynesville for introducing me to conversational sermons.