19 February 2018
On Sunday, Simon Clift spoke on fasting [see ‘current sermon series’] from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I sense this is a real ‘word in season’ for us for three reasons:
a) It ties in with the ‘spiritual health-check’ we did on Ash Wednesday and the suggestion that people use the ‘spiritual healthcheck’ book individually during Lent. (If you hadn’t heard about that, look at this blog [http://www.stjamesbythepark.org/blog/taking-a-spiritual-healthcheck] or pick up the materials from church next Sunday.)
b) This coming Saturday, the PCC are having an away day at which we’ll be looking to make decisions about the key mission priorities we want to have as a church over the coming years. This is the culmination of last term’s “Big Yes” / “discerning our collective mission priorities” evenings which many came to. In due course, the priorities the PCC decides upon will help to shape our decisions about buildings and budgets - as well as shaping the life of lots of groups within the church.
c) This coming Saturday is also a worship training day for our bands and tech teams, led by Neil Bennetts. As many of you know, the last year or so have been a testing time for our bands and tech teams, and this will be a great opportunity for them to come together to worship and learn together as they seek to serve God and us and lead our church in worship.
In the light of this, I’d love you to consider agreeing one day this week, or this coming month, when you will fast.
Simon gave some suggestions during the sermon as to what that might look like - typically going without food (but drink plenty of fluids) between an early breakfast and an evening meal; or for 24 hours. Some of you may need to seek medical advice first to see whether it is wise, but for the vast majority of people, fasting can be a really healthy discipline - and of course, when we are fasting to seek God, it becomes of great spiritual worth, too.
Specifically, would you pray and fast for our PCC (as they make these key decisions and work out how to implement them) and for our bands and tech teams (as they continue to adjust to lots of changes and seek to lead us in worship)?
Fasting isn’t just for the ‘super-spiritual’. It has been a common practice for most Christians for most of the last 2000 years - but is something that our generation has lost. Jesus clearly expects us to - so let’s learn together.
I’m suggesting that each cell group and missional community commits to experimenting with fasting on the same day (even though some will be at work, others on holiday etc) because we often need the encouragement of others to start at something which seems daunting. That’s why some who want to start running choose to join a ‘couch to 5k’ running group - it provides encouragement whilst training, and a degree of accountability. If your group fasts on the same day, you can message each other through the day to share how it’s going, and reflect on the experience together.
If you’re not in a cell group or missional community, choose a day to fast - you can always ask other friends in the church to give you particular encouragement on that day.
Who knows - once you’ve done it once, you may want to try again (for a slightly longer period?) later in Lent. Simon shared yesterday that since he started experimenting with fasting over the last couple of months, he has experienced a greater hunger for the things of God - in addition to a new enjoyment of food and a new awareness of how food can diminish us.
Let’s seek God together in prayer - and in fasting - for the life of our church and our mission in this area. Let’s pray - and fast - for God’s Kingdom to come and his will to be done.