In Matthew 6:16 – 18 we hear Jesus talking about fasting. To roughly paraphrase verses 16 to 18, he tells his disciples that when they fast they should not show it to the outside world by looking pained and being obvious about it but rather to do it discreetly and with a good demeanour. Nowadays we tend to interpret “fasting” as anything which implies imposing some kind of discipline on ourselves so whether we give up something, like chocolate, or start doing something differently, or commit to something we haven’t done before, we are observing that period of preparation which we call Lent. And we do not do it for recognition or sympathy from our peers but rather we are called to do it privately without a fanfare.
So if we don’t usually give up something (or take up something) for Lent, perhaps we should be thinking about some way in which we can impose a discipline on ourselves whether it be just for the period of Lent or the start of something which will continue beyond Easter, to prove to ourselves our commitment to the call of Christ to be his followers. If we can’t do that then just how committed are we?
If like me you favour the “doing something” route rather than the “abstinence route”, (I never could go on a diet) then the world is your oyster, but I do encourage you to do something whatever that may be….. “and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Writing this and talking about doing things discreetly and without looking for recognition or reward puts me in mind of the many people in this church who contribute in sometimes small but nevertheless significant ways to the smooth running of a church. There will be a lot of people in this church who give up their time and do those jobs that are necessary for a church to function, quietly and without many people knowing. They may not be seen, they may not have a high profile, but week on week they go about their tasks exercising their ministries. Things happen on time, things appear and are then tidied away, notice boards are kept updated, rotas are drawn up, information distributed, silverware polished, …. I think you get the picture. If you are one of these people, thank you. If you are not, then next time there is a call for a volunteer, perhaps it is a call to you!