Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent when Christians across the world enter into the holiest of holy seasons.

I'm observing with a simple fast from sodas and morning drive time radio. In its stead, I plan to listen to audio sermons and Scripture and focus on the coming Resurrection Celebration.

I pray these next 40 days also carry deep meaning for you and wanted to share a cool e-mail Chris Seay, the pastor of Ecclesia church here in Houston, sent to his community last night about the observance of Lent and fasting.

Brothers and Sisters,

I wanted to speak to you about our Lenten journey and invite you to join me on my Lenten fast. But first let me share with you two concerns that I have observed in previous years as we journey through lent.

Lent is not a Death March to Easter - The sacrifice of Jesus the Liberating King is so significant that we cannot even begin to express our gratitude by extreme fasts. We need not drive ourselves into clinical depression so that Easter is more of a relief from our fast than a celebration of the resurrection.

• Feasting is as important as Fasting – The historic practice of lent is a 40 day fast. Those 40 days do not include Sundays, which were intended as a break from fasting so that believers might feast together. So, plan to feast well during Lent and make that an essential part of your spiritual preparation for Easter.

This year I am choosing a fast that I pray will help me become more grateful for one of the most basic gifts of God that sustains our life and health – food. Recently, a very simple realization broke my will, pride and I pray that during lent it will break my heart. I realized that I am grateful for the enjoyment that food brings me – which is often substantial. I often joke about praying after a meal so that I know how grateful I am for the food. But I cannot remember the last time I was truly grateful for the food I was eating. It is possible that I never have been.

Gratefulness is one of the clearest signs of a healthy spirituality. When one has been given what they do not deserve, their hearts should expand with hope and love. The opposite is also true – entitlement is a sure sign of an unhealthy spiritual life. I am praying that I will abandon my sense of entitlement and become a truly grateful man.

So, in order to better identify with those that are truly hungry I will be limiting my diet during lent to the basic foods served to the Compassion International children that we sponsor in Nicaragua: rice and beans (they know it as gallo-pinto), chicken, a simple salad, and corn tortillas.

I am not doing this to lose weight, nor do I think you should. But I also have a very simple belief: I am overweight because I eat too much. I want to add some explanations or excuses to that, but in reality it is a simple truth. So, it is likely that by eating less food and fasting from rich dairy based foods that I may become increasingly healthy in both spirit and body.

Tomorrow I will begin a journey to rediscover what the bible says about food, to connect with the poor, enter fully into the story of Jesus, and to hopefully become a different man – a grateful man. If you would like to join me in this fast please send me an email at and make the subject Lenten fast. We will communicate with one another for encouragement, support, and to plan some wonderful feasts on the Sundays during Lent.

I am grateful for all of you and would ask that you join me to pray daily during Lent for the Hobart family and the important decisions ahead for our church as we consider how to respond to our facility needs. It is so important that we are all faithful in our giving and service to the church during this very important season.

Much Love,

Chris Seay

Grace and peace.

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