Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fasting - An Ash Wednesday Experience

We have a lovely Anglican Liturgical Orthodox church in our town, St. Patrick's Anglican Church, which is a new growth out of a separation from an Episcopal congregation several years ago. Some of the members and leaders felt the Episcopal church in America had drifted too far from the Scriptures in their teachings. Out of a desire to cling wholly to God's Word several wonderful Anglican Churches have sprouted. St. Patrick Anglican in Smyna, TN is one of them.

Ash Wednesday art by Ladyofshadow at DeviantArt

This morning I attended the Ash Wednesday Lent Mass. It was a blessing.

Being raised a Roman Catholic, I remembered much of the symbolism but did not understand the meaning. Now, an evangelical Christian of 30 years, I understand the deep Biblical meaning and at the same time am endeared to the liturgical ceremony of the service.

I was brought to tears as I returned to my pew after being crossed on the forehead by the Priest with ashes as he spoke, "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."

We recited the beautiful repentant Psalm 51 together, and then responded in a Litany of Penitence asking God to have corporate mercy upon us for many specific sins, such as:

  • sins by our own fault in thought, word, and deed; and what we have done and what we have left undone.
  • for not loving God with our whole heart, mind and strength; and not loving our neighbors as ourselves.
  • for not forgiving others as we have been forgiven.
  • for being deaf to God's calling to us to serve, for grieving the Holy Spirit.
  • for our self-indulgent appetites, 
  • for our negligence in prayer and worship for false judgements and uncharitable thoughts toward others.

You get the idea. Sincerely, it was a very meaningful and solemn mass.

I also loved the sermon. We were reminded that salvation is through faith and grace, and that works do not get us to heaven. Everyone chuckled when the Priest said if we gave up Starbucks for 40 days we did not get into heaven. I think we all got the point. He reminded us that Jesus first message was to repent and that talking about sin and repentance was not real popular in America today. He, also, told us to have an eternal focus and to see repentance as the way to life and love. We are to be led to more freedoms by giving up bad habits.

I headed home with a full intention of trying to fast today.

When I noticed my hunger about 10 am, I recalled that Jesus went through a lot more for me than a hunger pain.

Fasting is for a purpose, but it is not legalism. It does not earn us a closer relationship with God nor make us more righteous. Anyone who fasts need to be careful not to make it public and showy.

So, it was just a few minutes later that my college-aged son, who I have been praying will repent and turn to the Lord, calls me as I am writing this post and asks me to go to lunch with him. Do I break my fast? Do I tell him I am fasting for lent and just go sit with him and not eat or would that make him feel uncomfortable? Do I simply say yes? 

I must confess I did not ask the Lord. Truthfully, I forgot to ask God.

I simply, as most moms would do if a child calls to ask to go to lunch, especially one that she has not been alone with in several months, told him I will meet him. And we pick a place and time to go.

Thirty minutes later I am on the way to the restaurant (I am driving the old dump truck--all the other cars are taken already). Just a block before I turn for the restaurant blinking blue and white lights appear in my rearview mirror. I am in the far left lane two cars away from the light that is currently red. The turning lane is on my left in the middle of the road is empty, so I slide over into the turning lane. I simply don't know what I am suppose to do. His intercom starts to talk but it sounds like "blah blah blah" and I don't even have a radio on. I put my hands up in the air indicating I don't have a clue what to do. When the light changes green, I slowly turn left and find a place down the road to pull into -- another turning lane that enters into the medical complex and hospital.

The local sheriff says I have been texting and swaying. I am tell him I was not texting, which I was not. He said he was next to me and saw me on my phone. I tell him I was looking at the screen but I was not texting. He then tells me when his lights come on I should have went to the left, but I explain to him that the traffic lanes were full and we were at a red light. He says I should have waited  for the light to turn green and then made my way to the right and pulled over. I simply tell him I had no idea what to do.

In talking to me, he asks me where I am going. I tell him to meet my son for lunch. He indicates that I am driving like I am intoxicated. I tell him I have had nothing to drink, so he asks if I am on medication. I hesitate. Does he have the right to know if I am on medication? I say yes and he wants to know what for. Again what are my rights, do I have to answer? I wonder. 

He tells me to call me son and have him meet me where I am although I am only one block away from the restaurant. I am so embarrassed. I don't want to call my son.

He sees my hesitation and tells me that he can book me for DUI even if I am on medication prescribed to me by my doctor. I tell him I did not know that. I embarrassingly tell him I am on some psychiatric medications. He asks if I am diabetic or have low blood sugar. Then it dawns on me, I have been fasting.... it is possible that I am low in blood sugar.

In slight tears I explain that I went to Ash Wednesday Lent Service this morning and that I was trying to fast. He mumbles something about God; I think he says something about Him blessing me. He hands me back my license and lets me continue on to the restaurant to meet me son. Before I pull away I look into my side mirror, the sherrif honestly looks a little shook-up himself standing there besides his vehicle.

I manually move the broken flashers up and down to indicate I am turing right and move along. I am in tears, probably not seeing or driving better than before he pulled me over but trying to regain my composure. I don't want my son to know I have been crying. He is not the sensitive type and would probably make fun of me.

I feel so deflated, so humbled, so exhausted, but as a good mother I greet my son and go eat lunch without sharing my experience. Needless to say it was not easy. I ask lots of questions about his life; he sparingly gives me answers. God alone know how He will work through such flat encounters.

How frequent do we meet with people and never know what they have been through before we see them? Isn't it like a parent to pretend everything is alright and to simply make the best of the outing? God sees the whole picture but we simply see the part we are allowed. 

More happen today, but I have shared enough. Most of it bumpy and challenging. This didn't end up being the prefect "fasting-ash Wednesday" experience that I thought it would be... whatever that is... but as always, what I share about my life is real.



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