Los Alamos Church of Christ
Ascetic 2 - Fasting
I want to begin by telling you the story of Cinderella. This is not Disney’s Cinderella. This is a woman who lives in Kenya. Christopher Harmon, my son-in-law, works for Caris, a non-profit which had him in Kenya working on a project. Cinderella, a single mother of 2, pounds big coral rocks into smaller coral rocks. These rocks are used in concrete. She first climbs down in a well to gather the big rocks. Then she smashed them into small rocks. She sells the gravel for 20 cents per 5 gallon bucket to support her family. This picture shows the progression of the rock, big on the right and the finished gravels on the left. Everyday, all the time Cinderella pounds rocks for a living. Christopher has a saying he uses when those around him are whining… “Tell it to Cinderella.”
Now, hold Cinderella in your head for a moment. I want to make a connection between Cinderella, the Ascetic temperament and Fasting.
The Ascetic temperament is defined by two words…solitude and discipline. Let’s focus on the discipline part. Discipline… strictness… self-denial. Even though the Ascetic gravitates toward this self-denial, the healthy Ascetic is not a gloomy, miserable character. I say healthy, because there are misuses amongst Ascetic. But the spiritually healthy Ascetic is not some masochist who feels unworthy, so they punish themselves in penitence. I’m sure there are some who do this…but that is not what I am talking about. The healthy ascetic can use discipline for an amazing reason.
Let me reframe the goal of self-denial; the goal of the Ascetic temperament. Ascetics offer their discipline as a gift to God.
Last Sunday was Father’s Day. As a Father, I received several gifts. I was given several pleasant conversations on the phone. I received a nice text from one kid. I got a high dollar backpacking chair from my favorite child. Giving a gift to your heavenly Father for Father’s Day is much the same. Our Father in Heaven appreciates gifts that cost something. He appreciates any connection, he enjoys a call – prayer, or even a text message. But don’t you think that the Father, who made us in His image, is honored with a thoughtful, intentional, cost-something gift? Costly gifts are meaningful to the Big Daddy in the Sky.
The gift I would like to advocate we give to our Upstairs Father is the gift of identification. Cinderella is also our Father’s child. What? I know it is hard to get that in our heads. But Cinderella and all the marginalized of this world are loved by our Father as His children.
--The caregiver is going to want to literally help Cinderella.
--We will discover the Activist is going to want to fix what is wrong in the world to help Cinderella.
But the Ascetic can offer their self-denial in identification with Cinderella as a gift to their heavenly Father. Wow, I think this is an amazing thought.
My lovingly offered self-denial connected to Cinderella becomes a meaning gift to my Father. It is the gift of identification with a marginalized child of God. As the Ascetic denies a privilege, a right, a freedom, chooses to NOT do something, and then identifies with Cinderella in that suffering as an offering to God there is meaning to the denial… it is a precious gift.
We have connected Cinderella to the Ascetic now let’s add fasting.
As the Ascetic fasts each hunger pain can be connected to Cinderella and then offered as a gift to her Father. The Ascetic brings hunger as a gift to her Father, identification in her suffering. Our self-less lives identify with the marginalized and abused and helpless and idiots of world in denial of our privileges to offer our lives as gifts to the Father.
As an Intellectual, I know the New Testament does not command fasting. If it was commanded… it would diminish it as a gift. Demanded gifts are marginal gifts. But certainly, scriptures advocate fasting. Check the handout for examples of fasting.
The clearest expectation of fasting is Jesus in Luke 5.
Luke 5:29-35 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." And they said to him, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." And Jesus said to them, "Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days."
In these days we can offer identification in fasting as a wedding gift to the groom.
If fasting were commanded it would be diminished as a gift. But if in our self-denial we can view this as a gift of identification it can become precious.
Cinderella, the Ascetic temperament and fasting all connected.
There are many facets of fasting…
Take-aways from Forty Days of Fasting…
--God is able to give us grace to do difficult things.
--God uses fasting as a tool to increase intimacy.
--Fasting without prayer is not fasting.
--Fasting turns down the noise of the world allowing for His direction.
So, choose a time, something to deny, for what purpose… assignment. Pick a Cinderella…
Ascetic Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Busy One: The Lord our God, the Lord is the Unassuming one.
You shall love the Lord your God…
…with all your heart, making time for your LOVER.
…with all your soul, spent with the LORD alone.
…with all your mind, with thoughts of Him.
…with all your strength, in discipline.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
June 26, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ