Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Restraint

I mentioned a while back that I am fasting for Lent.   There is nothing in the Bible that encourages a Lenten Fast but it has been common practise amongst most Churches for several Centuries now.   I generally do not make the traditional fast on denying myself food (during daylight) or of refraining from meat, with my lifestyle the former could be difficult, or indeed unhealthy, the later not much of a sacrifice and might impact more on other members of my family more than on me.

The point of the Lenten fast is primarily about preparation, through prayer, penance, repentance, alms giving, and self-denial, the culmination of this preparation is in Holy Week when we remember Jesus' own sacrifice and celebrate is resurrection.   For most modern Christians this is a period of reflection, and prayer, the fast reminding us of our need for a relationship with God, our prayer deepening this relationship, our self denial reminding us of what Christ himself gave up for us.   It is also about the practise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, at least that all important one of self control.

Over the last five or six years I have been in the habit of giving up booze for lent.   For me this has actually become quite important,
  • It is a public form of witness to my non Christian friends
  • It is difficult (there is no self denial in giving up something we do not want anyway)
  • For the period of Lent it is a constant reminder of what I am doing and why.
  • It helps me establish who is in charge of my relationship with alcohol.
Now it is quite clear to me that fasting just like every other religious practise will not in itself bring you closer to God ~ or happiness, fulfillment or anything else ~ it is the manner and spirit in which it is undertaken that matters.   Any observance that is undertaken solely for the sake of that observance will serve no heavenly good, just as Jesus taught us about prayer and fasting, it is not about public observance but private and personal relationship.

I have gone on about the theological side of this a little more than I intended, however what I wanted to say is "it's tough".   This year I am struggling  a bit, not so much when I go to the Pub after a rehearsal or concert, not when other members of the family have a glass of wine, the two occasions i find hardest are, watching the Rugby, I would like a glass of beer and a bag of crisps, and late at night when everyone else has gone to bed, than a small glass of whisky as I contemplate the day that has passed and the one about to come, that's what I am missing.

Tonight I plan to be playing with the worship band at our Church, we have not rehearsed or prepared but I for one will be relieved to get out and play.
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