Fasting For Fear: Reflections on Ash Wednesday

In the light of our modern plagues of locusts, increasing numbers of people are echoing what Joel feared all those years ago. "Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is your God?'" (Joel 2:17) As locusts hop and cut and devour, what proof is there that God has anything to do with any of these terrible things? This to me is the hard question of Lent. When you get your cross of ashes this year, do not merely think of your own life and its various insect plagues. It is too light a thing to use Lent as a private religious practice only. If Lent is to sound forth its call for transformation, we must think also of the larger locust infestations that forever plague our corporate lives as well as our private ones. When we fast this Lent, and I hope you do that as a regular discipline, I pray your fast will be not just for you to lose a pound or two, but to remember those who fast from lack of food, not from ease of decision. In the face of our plagues of locusts, let us not fast from fear, but fast for others, tearing our hearts and not our clothes, opening ourselves up to the call of God to serve our brothers and sisters far and near.

Author's Note: Another reminder of the Baltic Cruise on which will speak of the book of Job. We sail September 3 from Copenhagen. Full details may be found at I hope to see you there!

3/3/2014 5:00:00 AM
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  • John Holbert
    About John Holbert
    John C. Holbert is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX.