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Fasting: Its Purpose, and Instructions

Why Fast?

[Resource: Marjorie Thompson’s book entitled Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life]

The first obvious answer begins with the fact that Jesus did it, Paul did it, and faithful disciples throughout the ages have done it. As people who have dedicated their lives to becoming more Christ like, searching for ways to make our faith more vibrant and alive, looking at the model Jesus provides is a great beginning.

There is plenty of evidence that fasting combined with prayer invites God’s power to flow through us. Think about that! The Book of Acts, and experiences of Christians throughout time all point to this truth. Fasting and prayer invites God’s power into our lives in a unique way.

When we fast, we empty ourselves so that God can fill us. In a related way, fasting also helps us to get our priorities straight. As Thompson says “how often have we neglected to remember God’s presence?” Now compare that with how many times you’ve forgotten to eat. Chances are good that you are much more likely to neglect God’s presence and to neglect a hunger pang. Fasting is way of reaffirming that God is our center and focus of our lives; not food, not our jobs, not school, not entertainment, not even our families- none of these things are life giving none of these actually give our lives meaning. God alone does. When we fast, we are acknowledging the truth that God is the source of everything, the source of life itself.

Fasting is a way of recovering balance. It is a way of living within the limits of our humanity as designed by God. In other words, fasting is way of being restored and made more whole. God has placed limits on our lives for good reason- when we fast, and acknowledge God’s rightful place and our rightful place we recover a sense of who we are, and whose we are. We find the strength to resist temptation, as Jesus did, because we are living within God’s boundaries. When we live within our God-given limits, we are able to become more centered.

Fasting Directions

1. Prepare spiritually- fasting must be centered on God. Therefore, ask for God’s help. Ask for an understanding of the spiritual dimension of fasting. When temptation arises, ask God for relief.

2. Do not fast if you are ill, traveling, or under stress. If you have any concerns about your health, contact your physician first. Fasting depletes our energy levels, so plan to reduce normal activities while fasting.

3. To begin practicing fasting, you may want to try a partial fast. This lasts no more than 24 hours and may include drinking only fruit juices during this period.

4. It is most common to begin fasting after supper and fast until the following night’s supper; you may fast from lunch to lunch or breakfast to breakfast if you prefer. In this way, you are missing two meals.

5. This may be repeated once per week for several weeks. After four to five weeks, you will be ready to try a normal fast of only water during the twenty four hours. Drink plenty of water.

6. A fast should be broken with a light, non-fatty meal, usually fruits and vegetables.

Music Appreciation Class

Artist: Audrey Assad    (<—- click for Artist Biography)

Song: The House You’re Building     (<—- click for SONG!)

Lyrics:

Yeah these are old shoes that I’ve been walking in
I’m wearing weary like it’s a second skin
I’ve been looking for a place to lay my head

All this time like a vagabond
A homeless stranger
I’ve been wandering
All my life you’ve been calling me
To a home you know I’ve been needing

I’m a broken stone
So lay me in the house you’re building
(Yeah come on)

You are a shelter for every misfit soul
We are the four walls and you’re the cornerstone
You are
And you’re the solid rock that we are built upon

And all this time like a vagabond
A homeless stranger
I’ve been wandering
And all my life you’ve been calling me
To a home you know that I’ve been needing

I’m a broken stone
So lay me in the house you’re building

‘Cause in you I find my meaning, yeah
And in you I find my beauty

All this time like a vagabond
A homeless stranger
I’ve been wandering
All my life you’ve been calling me
To a home you know I’ve been needing

All this time like a vagabond
A homeless stranger
I’ve been wandering
All my life you’ve been calling me
To a home you know I’ve been needing
I’m a broken stone
So lay me in the house you’re building

Lay me in the house you’re building
In the house you’re building

 

Know There’s Help

When the weather makes being outdoors dangerous to life and limb,
the State of Delaware will declare a 

code purple

 Know what it means, and how to direct people in need,

so that they can get safely on the other side of it: 

Code Purple Kent County flyer

 remember the poor

Show it.

A young boy, on an errand for his mother, had just bought a dozen eggs. As he walked out of the store, he tripped and dropped the sack, breaking every egg he had bought. The sidewalk was a mess, and the little boy tried not to cry.

Crying_boy

A few people gathered to see if he was okay and to tell him how sorry they were.

In the midst of all the “I’m sorry”s and everyone making sure the boy was okay, one man handed the boy a quarter. Then he turned to the group and said, “I care 25 cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?”

That little story has a strong parallel to many people today, doesn’t it?

The Bible says that faith is of the utmost importance. But faith itself is only proven when there are works behind it— like giving of your time, your money, … even your very life to Christ.

So instead of just giving Jesus “lip service”, give Him of your SUBSTANCE. Add substance to your profession of faith. Or, as the old saying goes, “Put yer money where yer mouth is!”

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. – James 2:26

(adapted from devotional from https://www.seniorlivingministries.org/)

lmayan

“So you have a liberal arts degree. Now what?”

 

kalmbach_image

Thursday, September 12

Wesley College Chapel

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

FREE ADMISSION

Michael Kalmbach will present a lecture on the perils and opportunities involved in setting out on an arts-based career in the 21st century. He is a local example of how talent, determination, and a commitment to the community can combine to create a meaningful and satisfying career. He is the founder of the New Wilmington Art Association (NWAA), the Creative Vision Factory (https://thecreativevisionfactory.org/), and was the driving force behind the newly completed Kalmar Nyckel Mural in Wilmington.

Kalmar Mural

Mr. Kalmbach will discuss his career, provide insights on how to become successful in the arts, and will also lay out plans for a Creative Vision Factory in Dover, DE.

For a complete list of events, please visit:

https://whetstone.wesley.edu/artsculture/

DDA logo for flyers

KCFA logo

 

Why We Sing

My favorite hymnal (sorry, it’s not the UMH) was compiled by Benjamin Franklin White and published in 1844. It is titled “The Sacred Harp” and its name refers to the oldest and purest God-given instrument in the world – the human voice. Have you ever stopped to think that you carry around an instrument in your body 24 hours a day? It doesn’t cost anything, it is almost weightless, it is relatively simple to maintain, and it is arguably the most beautiful instrument in the world. String instruments were designed to mimic the lyricism and tone of the human voice and yet they cost a fortune. Yours is just as good if not better, and its free!

How often do you have an opportunity to sing with other people? You can sing with the Delaware Choral Society every week but it will cost you dues. You can sing karaoke at the bar but it’s not so good for your liver or perhaps your reputation. In our relatively small community, the only caveat-free singing opportunity I can think of is Sunday morning worship. On Sunday mornings you can come and become a part of a large chorus of worshipers, accompanied by one of our city’s finest pipe organs. In addition to this, you have the opportunity to partake in one of our country’s oldest musical traditions – Wesleyan hymnody. Many of the hymns we sing on Sunday mornings are the very same hymns that were sung 200 years ago in places like Barratt’s Chapel in Frederica. No other institution in our region, religious or otherwise, enjoys such a rich and well-preserved musical tradition.

Singing also serves as an expression of our deepest feelings. This after all is the reason why we love music and art, because it causes us to feel. Some argue that we should only sing in praise of God. I wouldn’t wholly disagree, but I offer a simple and humble supposition, that perhaps God receives the greatest thanks when we sing what is in our hearts. Sometimes we sing from joy and sometimes we sing from sorrow. I believe it is important to sing openly from what we feel inside because it is what our voices do naturally – it is what they were designed to do. Some churches tell us not to trust our feelings because they belong to worldly desires. Feelings, however, are an essential part of our humanity.  Benjamin Britten wrote a marvelous piece set to the words of Christopher Smart, where in one movement he considers the faith of cats in their natural rituals of devotion:

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.

As the poem suggests, we all praise God in our own way, and it is a naturally occurring ritual in our human existence to sing. We were made to sing and we are meant to feel something meaningful by it. So the next time you sing a hymn in church, or a song with your kids, or a tune with the radio, think for a moment about the gift of music and the gift of your instrument. Enjoy music and singing as you enjoy life. I believe it is what God intended.

-Dr. James Wilson

What is the meaning of Holy Communion?

As we have been celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion during this Easter season, it’s a good time to reflect upon the meaning of the meal. It is appropriate for the Easter Season with an emphasis on the resurrection aspect of the meal. This is seen in Luke 24, when Jesus is walking on the Road to Emmaus with Cleaopas and his companion (likely his wife). They don’t realize that Jesus is the one walking with them. That is, not until they get to Emmaus, and insist that their travel companion stay for dinner. It is when Jesus breaks the bread that they recognize him. Likewise, we believe that in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup, something special and sacred happens. Jesus is made known to us in a unique way. The Holy Spirit is present in a special way. 

I hope that the summarizations below help you to have a more meaningful experience of Christ’s table.

Pastor Amy

 

Here is a summary of Laurence Hull Stooky’s book Eucharist. (That is the Greek word for the meal, and it means thanksgiving)

STRAFE- Sacrifice, Thanksgiving, Remembrance of Jesus’ death, Action of the Holy Spirit, Fellowship, and Eschatology.. The word strafe means to scatter widely. Communion is a way that God delivers grace.

Sacrifice– Christ’s life, death, and resurrection make God’s grace available to us. We also present ourselves as sacrifice in union with Christ (Rom 12:1, 1Peter2:5) to be used in the work of redemption, reconciliation, and justice

Thanksgiving: expressing joy and giving thanks for God’s acts in history: Creation, Covenant, Redemption, Sanctification

Remembrance: of Jesus’ death for us. A re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Christ is risen, and alive here and now.

Action of the Holy Spirit: John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Great Thanksgiving: “Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world that body of Christ, redeemed by
            Christ’s blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry with all the world.”

This meal nourishes and strengthens our faith. It sustains us through trial, tragedy, temptation

Fellowship: celebrates the body of the faithful coming together, reveals the nature of the church, and the model God would have for the world

Eschatology: looks to the end of time, and God’s purpose for the world, the Coming Kingdom that is already here, but not yet complete.

“Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

Commune with those here, and with all the saints.

A foretaste of the future, a promise of heaven, “until Christ comes in final  victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.”

When we eat and drink at the Table, we partake of the divine nature in this life and for life eternal.

Anticipate heavenly banquet celebrating God’s victory over sin, evil, and death.

 

The Lord’s Supper (from A Disciple’s Journal, Year B  by Steve Manskar)

                  The Lord’s Supper combines prayer, Scripture, and the breaking of bread as a means of grace that has the power to heal and transform. “For Wesley, the Lord’s Supper invites an experience of faith which powerfully forms and shapes the affections, and a relationship with a God who freely gives God’s own self out of love for sinners.”” The sacrament tells the story of grace.

In it is found the story of God’s unlimited, universal, self-giving love for the world in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. In the broken bread and pungent wine the One who gave all he had, even his own life, to set all the world free from slavery to sin and death is re-presented. And, we are invited to become participants in God’s grand project of salvation, liberation, healing, and transformation for the universe.

The Lord’s Supper is an invitation to enter into the life of Christ for the world. It is a re-presentation of Christ’s life. “In the Lord’s Supper God is experienced as the one who promises in faithfulness. A response of loving gratitude is evoked for this promise of new life, a response of joyful hope is evoked for both the expectation of present transformation and the assurance of feasting with God in the future kingdom.” Christ’s offering of himself for the life of the world is an invitation for us to respond by offering us to Christ as channels of his grace in and for the world.

The Lord’s Supper is “food for the journey.” The bread and cup are offered to everyone who will receive it to fill them with the food they need to continue (or begin) their walk with Christ. In the bread and cup we take Christ’s body and blood into our own bodies and blood. He becomes part of us and goes into the world with us. His body and blood, re-presented in the bread and cup, connect us to all the generations of disciples that have gone before us. The Sacrament is our connection to Christ and the communion of saints who served as his faithful witnesses and passed the faith along from generation to generation. The Lord’s Supper gives continuity to our discipleship by connecting us to our history in Christ. It gives life to the body and the spirit as it conveys prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace.

John Wesley said “It is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can.” It is a “plain command of Christ” and a way we are given the sanctifying grace that leads us into Christian perfection.