The first day of Lent and Valentine’s Day do not collide that often. It creates an interesting situation this year. Valentine’s Day is full of chocolate and feasting. Ash Wednesday invites us to repentance and fasting. How can we combine Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, fasting and feasting? Or do we need to choose one over other? Let’s find out.
Fasting and Feasting
Both fasting and feasting are part of Christian life. There is time for both. But the question here now is: could we do them simultaneously? Could Lent be about fasting and feasting? I think the answer is yes, yet I know it needs a little bit explaining.
Traditionally, Lent is about fasting, preparing ourselves for the Easter joy. I know some of you might even wonder whether we need Lent or not. We follow Jesus’ example if holding a 40 day fast. Hence there must be some spiritual blessings hidden in fasting. So we embrace fasting in general. During Lent, we just practice this spiritual discipline together. Lent is an opportunity for us to grow in grace.
The example of Jesus
Jesus also embraced feasting, celebrating Life and the Giver of Life. Christian life at its best is feasting: it’s a joyful life with God. In that sense, it should be a daily occurrence. That’s why feasting does not most often mean parties and excess of food and drink. Feasting is embracing God and his loving presence every second of your life.
So far we have established that both fasting and feasting are stables of the Christian lifestyle. But they do seem like polar opposites, don’t they? How could we practice fasting and feasting simultaneously? If the matter was about food, it would be impossible to do. But we can fast and feast on immaterial things too.
Could fasting and feasting be combined?
So if you want to fast from talking negatively and feast on kind words, you are combing them beautifully. Or if you’re fasting from selfishness and feasting on loving your neighbor, you’re practicing them simultaneously. Also, if you’re fasting from watching TV and feasting on reading the Word of God, you’re once again fasting and feasting at the same time. How about fasting from gossip and feasting on prayer? Or fasting from holding grudges and feasting on forgiveness? What a great way to combine fasting and feasting, don’t you think?
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. (Romans 12:11-16, MSG)
What about Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day
How about Valentine’s Day, you ask. Fast from crumpiness and feast on friendships; fast from wastefulness, feast on hugs. Maybe you want to fast from food, then feast on companionship. Whatever you do, do it with love. Our God is a generous God full of love and his mercy is new every morning. Hence, go and fast from worldliness and hate, feast on godliness and love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
(1 Cor. 13:4-7, MSG)
Let us pray
Thank you for always having answers even before we’re able to articulate questions.
Your love is so astronomical and you want to lavish us with it.
Pour on love upon love and grace upon grace.
Enable us to fast from things that hurt
and feast on things that uplift us and our loved ones.
Bless us as we enter this season of Lent and
as we detox from the bad things and
celebrate the good things in our lives.
In Jesus’ name,
Q4U: Ash Wednesday & Valentine’s Day. How are you going to combine them?
Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you celebrate by fasting and feasting!