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Fasting, a weird thing to be talking about at Christmas, right? Well normally, I would say yes. This morning however, while looking up the definition of Advent and related biblical passages, I came across this little tidbit of information: In certain faiths, fasting has long been a part of preparing for Christmas. People fast to prepare their minds and hearts for the celebration of the coming of Christ.
I didn’t know that. Yet the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. With all of the packages that need to be covered in brightly colored wrap and evergreen trees that will not decorate themselves, I understand the reasoning behind fasting at Christmas. And let’s not forgot those special Christmas sales, the never-ending barrage of commercials and online sites pushing and prodding the consumer to buy, buy, buy. All of this tends to steer our attention away from that day in the manger to our never-fulfilled, often inflated Christmas to-do-or-die list.
Can I get an “Amen”? If we are honest, that is the majority of our focus at Christmas. So how can we fix that? Cousin Susie and little Billy still need presents, right? And the Christmas cards still need to be sent, and what about that sale at Hoffmeyeringigies’? I might be able to beat the crowds and find the perfect gift for my husband, one that is 70 percent off the already low price of 30 percent off the original.
Fasting. Fasting is the answer. No, I don’t mean you have to board up your cupboards and drive by the drive-thru this season. I do mean giving up something that reminds you to celebrate Christmas, the real Christmas.
For instance, let’s say that I decide to fast from something important to me until Christmas morning, something like chocolate. That means from this moment forward until Christmas Day, every time I want to reach for a lovely square of that dark-brown confectionery beside my bed, I choose to delay my ravenous attack. Rather than give in to the craving, I instead choose to pray and talk with Jesus about how thankful I am that he chose to be born, that he chose to live as a human so that we could have a literal walking picture of who God truly is, that he gave up all of heaven to be born in a stable, for you and for me.
How does this type of fasting help turn my attention away from my to-do-or-die list? Well, as many times as I desire chocolate during the course of a normal day, let’s just say that I will pretty much be in a state of uninterrupted prayer and praise all the way till Christmas morning.
Fasting — what a great way to get our minds focused on the real meaning of Christmas, don’t cha’ think? Let’s do it.
Prayer: Jesus, I don’t want to miss you this season because of my busyness. Show me what I can fast from so that my mind will be more concentrated on you and less on distractions of the season. Happy Birthday Jesus, a little early.
Steven and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and firstname.lastname@example.org.