We are now at the beginning of that season of the Church Year called Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday, March 9th of this year. Lent is a season which commemorates Christ’s forty days in the wilderness, which preceded His public ministry. It has been customary for Christians throughout the centuries to observe this season by fasting and spending extra time in prayer. In The Homilies there is a sermon titled “Of Good Works: and first of Fasting.” The Homilies are a series of sermons which explain Anglican doctrine and practices (*see Article XXXV of the 39 Articles of Religion).
The homily explains that there is a wrong reason for fasting. It reads, “To fast then with this persuasion of mind, that our fasting and other good works can make us good, perfect, and just men, and finally bring us to heaven, this is a devilish persuasion, and that fast so far off from pleasing God, that it refuseth His mercy, and is altogether derogatory to the merits of Christ’s death, and His precious bloodshedding. This doth the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican teach.” “Two men,” saith Christ, “Went up together to the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus within himself: ‘I thank thee, O God, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, and as this publican is: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” The publican stood afar off, and would not lift up his eyes to heaven; but smote his breast, and said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” In other words, if we fast out of pride or thinking that it earns us salvation, then, our fast is an evil rather than a good thing.
There are, however, three very good reasons for us to fast. The homily states, “There be three ends, whereunto if our fast be directed, it is then a work profitable to us and accepted of God. The first is, to chastise the flesh, that it be not too wanton, but tamed, and brought in subjection to the spirit. This respect had St. Paul in his fast, when he said, ‘I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means it cometh to pass, that when I have preached to other, I myself be found a castaway.’ The second, that the spirit may be more fervent and earnest in prayer. To this end fasted the prophets and teachers that were at Antioch, before they sent forth Paul and Barnabas, to preach the Gospel. The same two Apostles fasted, for the like purpose, when they commended to God, by their earnest prayers, the congregations that were at Antioch, Pisidia, Iconium, and Lystra; as we read in the acts of the Apostles. The third, that our fast be a testimony and witness with us, before God, of our humble submission to His high Majesty, when we confess and acknowledge our sins unto Him, and are inwardly touched with sorrowfulness of heart, bewailing the same, in the affliction of our bodies.” To put this in modern terms, we should fast in order to discipline our bodies, i.e., to control our bodies, rather than be controlled by them. Secondly, pray during the time you would spend eating. Finally, fasting is a sign of humility and helps create a humble spirit in us when done for the right reasons.
By Rev. Frank M. Levi
*39 ARTICLES OF RELIGION
Number XXXV. Of the Homilies.
THE Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be undersood of the people.
OF THE NAMES OF THE HOMILIES
Of the right Use of the Church.
Against Peril of Idolatry.
Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
Of good Works: first of Fasting.
Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
Against Excess of Apparel.
Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
Of the reverend Estimation of God’s Word.
Of the Nativity of Christ.
Of the Passion of Christ.
Of the Resurrection of Christ.
Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
For the Rogation-days.
Of the State of Matrimony.
Lent begins Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011. On the Wednesday nights in Lent we will have a Soup Supper at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall and Evening Prayer Service in the Chapel at 7:30 p.m. The dates we will meet on the Wednesdays of Lent are March 9, 16, 23, 30, and April 6 & 13. Mark you calendars and plan to join us.
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME
Starts Sunday, March 13, 2011
SUNDAY EVENING PRAYER
The Rev. Phil Tjoelker will begin conducting an Evening Prayer Service on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 5 p.m. All are invited and encouraged to attend.
ANNUAL PARISH MEETING
Our annual church meeting will be Sunday, April 3, 2011, following church. The meeting in the Parish Hall will be preceded by a luncheon. All reports should be turned in to the church office by Sunday, March 27th.
MISSIONARY OF THE MONTH
Judy King, Bible Translation/Discipling, Summer Institute of Linguistics, The Amazon, Brazil
1 - Dale Muir
5 - Ian Christenson
7 - Charlie Poole
9 - Allison Klingen
12 - Amy Christenson
17 - Rev. Derrick Hassert
17 - Igbagbo Olajide
“We call upon you to make this season of Lent a time:
I. FOR TRUE REPENTANCE.
Let us seek God faithfully in prayer, and bring to Him all those unconfessed and unforgiven sins
which have prevented Him from filling us with joy and peace in believing, and which have made
it impossible for Him to use us in service.
‘Your sins have withholden good things from you.’ But, ‘If we confess our sins, God is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
II. FOR DEFINITE SELF-SURRENDER.
That means that we lay at His nail-pierced feet all that has been opposed to His will, and that
from henceforth we shall seek in all things to please, not ourselves, but Him. No blessing can
come to us until we have given into His keeping the keys to our life and love,.
We crave for you the unspeakable blessing that always follows an absolute, unconditional
surrender to Jesus Christ.”
By CHARLES EDWARD CHENEY& SAMUEL MARTIN GIBSON