“DURING THE SEASON OF LENT…”
… Join Your Pastors for a “Wesley Fast” &
Pray for the Welfare of Our City.
Pray for the Welfare of Our City
This week we pray for the Thomasville Medical Center.
Hospital staff have asked Memorial United Methodist Church for the following:
– Prayer for our Surgical Services team members. Recently a few have lost family members.
– Prayer for hospital leaders to make wise decisions for the community’s best interests.
– Prayer for guidance to hire compassionate team members to care for our patients.
– Prayer for leaders to work collaboratively in the best interest of our patients.
As you pray for the hospital, recall the halls you have walked down, from the entryway of the main doors to the nursing stations, and the hospital rooms you have visited. Remember the dining areas where hospital staff and families find reprieve and a moment to rest.
Recall the doctors and nurses you have met, and imagine the patients waiting to be well enough to go home. Recall the emergency rooms, waiting areas and the intake staff who greet each patient and family in a time of physical pain and stress. Bring to mind the ICU ward, as hospital care for patients whose lives hang in the balance.
It’s time for a moment of truth telling.
I didn’t keep the fast last week. It began well enough. I had nothing to eat after supper on Thursday, and began Friday morning without breakfast, but by noon I was eating bananas and a peanut butter sandwich.
I was only few hours short of the Wesley Fast which ends at 3:00 PM, so why the fret and confession? It’s not like I had a large pizza delivered to my house. I suppose it is because I have been the one rallying the congregation to observe a Lenten Fast, and I have a title to live up to as your senior pastor, a reputation to keep.
But, then life happens. I was officiating a funeral that afternoon and didn’t want to step into the pulpit weak in the knees from an empty stomach. I was also a wee bit anxious about what lay ahead, and food is a comfort, especially a childhood snack. I had been hunting in the refrigerator for jelly to go with my soft bread and peanut butter, but with just two adults in the house it’s not an item we think of anymore when we are in the grocery store.
Jesus’ comments on fasting were not always of a positive note. His criticism was targeted mostly toward the religious leaders, and their habit of making the spiritual practice a public production. He counseled his disciples, “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others they are fasting.”
I have not gone so far as to disfigure my face, but I will admit that I may have forgotten that fasting is for personal benefit, and not to show my congregation how close I am to God or what I am willing to endure to be thought of as spiritually notable.
Jesus continues, “But, when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
We have heard our striving often enough: Reach for the tithe, and then go beyond it. Read the whole Bible in a year. Spend an hour a day in quiet meditation. Fast for forty-eight hours and know the hunger felt by so many. Of course, this is all good, but never a measure of love earned or a boast of religious success. Faith is not an achievement. Jesus understood that we tend to turn the spiritual disciplines into something like a religious weight lifting competition for the fit. The result is disquiet and worry, and we miss the reward of a heart that knows Jesus.
Sometimes a sandwich is the better choice.