March 22, 2008
SUNRISE, EASTER MORNING
This year for Lent I planned a modified fast; no meat and no coffee primarily. I also tried to limit everything that gives
me pleasure. I’m already celibate, so no change there. Fewer desserts, no TV, walking and no bicycle riding. I haven’t
driven in three years. No workouts at the gym. Well, that’s love-hate. About four weeks in I gave up dairy products.
Like last year I was going to go the last week with just bread and water, and then reduce to just water between Good Friday
and Easter Sunday.
All was going well until Wednesday this week when for some reason I couldn’t make it after two days on bread and
Some may question going to these extremes. To me, it’s all naturally in keeping with my faith. Easter is the most
important time of the year for Christians. Some prefer Christmas, but the child Jesus couldn’t have gone to the cross
and abolished death. This is the time of year that we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection and our own spiritual re-birth.
It’s no coincidence that this all occurs in the Spring while plants are turning green, coming back to life and blossoming.
I feel the Lord’s Spirit and power more at this time of year than any other. Lent is meant to I enhance this relationship.
By sacrificing material things I am following in the Lord’s footsteps. Even though my sacrifice pales in comparison
to what the Lord has done for us, it’s a start, something to build on.
Once you realize that you can do without foods that you thought that you had to have you realize that you can do without
a lot of things. Rising above fleshly desires gives one confidence in changing other character defects, the things that stand
in the way of our attaining holiness.
Beyond that, I always think, how are we as the body of Christ going to learn to love our neighbors or the more difficult
task of loving our enemies if we can’t even give up television for a month and a half?
In addition, doing without the normal creature comforts puts one more in tuned to the simple way that Jesus and the Apostles
lived, not to mention the poor in our own time. This year I was much more in tuned to doing the right thing because I was
so focused on God. This meant helping others more readily and noticing things like taking plastic bags at the store when I
have my backpack. Being more environmentally conscious I refused almost all bags. I finally ran out of all of those pesky
bags I was hording at home.
I believe that by engaging in “works” such as these we are preparing ourselves for a re-filling of the Holy
Spirit (see Ephesians 5:8-21).
But, it all collapsed on Wednesday. I still felt that I had accomplished something because last year I started a few days
late. So, by going 40 days vegetarian I actually set a new personal best.
After reading about someone else’s sacrifice online I am planning to skip lunches for the first five weeks next year.
Also, instead of bread and water the last week, I will go with a juice and water fast. Eventually, I want to fast from Christmas
to Easter. After that, I will try to go a whole year vegetarian. Periodically, I already pray about these things in advance.
This year’s experience served to reinforce that anyone can be doing everything right; fasting, praying, reading scripture
daily and can still fall short of the grace and glory of the Lord. In my case, I felt that I had let the Lord down because
I had made a vow to Him. What a perfect time to re-learn that we are all sinners who need to ask the Lord for forgiveness.
Nonetheless, tomorrow morning I will rise before sunrise and I will make bread with no leavening. I will kneel before a
humble wooden alter that I built with my own hands and pour a glass of wine that I also made myself.
Then, I will light a beeswax candle I and burn incense that was made by monks according to the recipe from Exodus
30:34-35. I will anoint myself with oil made roughly according to Exodus 30:23-25. My mind will be thinking of Moses
and Aaron in the Tabernacle waiting for a word from the Lord , or perhaps Zacharias dutifully performing his work in the temple
in Jerusalem before an angel appeared to him to tell him of the approaching nearly miraculous birth of his son, John the Baptist.
Jesus Christ is our Passover. He ransomed His life so that we all can be free and have eternal life. As I recite the words
of the Lord’s Supper I will commune with the Lord and pray for 15, 20, maybe thirty minutes reciting many of the biblical
verses that I have memorized.
Some may say, why go through all of this? The answer; to get closer to the Lord, the best place to be.
Later tomorrow, I will no doubt attend church services. There, I will see parents with children in their new clothes, perhaps
in church for the only time of the year, perhaps fresh from an Easter egg roll or headed to one. I will shake my head.
They would probably shake their heads if they knew how I showed my faith as no doubt some who read this will. But, I only
have One that I seek to impress. He said:
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever desires
to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains
the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be
ashamed when He comes in His own glory…(Luke 9:23-26).