Thomas McKenzie
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The Christmastime Fast

From Fr. Thomas

The prophet Isaiah writes,
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free; and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—;
when you see the naked, to clothe them; and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn; and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
--Isaiah 58:6-8

Advent is a season of fasting.  All around us the World is shopping, eating, drinking, partying.  Of course, so are we.  We are celebrating, and why not?  This is a great time of year to gather with friends and family, co-workers and fellow students.  This is a season of good food and good times.

Still, the Church is called upon to fast.  Does that mean we should avoid this year’s office party?  Maybe, maybe not.  That is up to you.  Let me offer you this possibility. 

In the Book of Isaiah, the Holy Spirit counsels us that fasting is not just about giving up food.  It is also about sharing with the poor.  In the secular world, the Christmas season is about buying and receiving, as well as giving to those we love.  In the Church world, the Advent season is about supporting our fellow believers, giving to those who are in need, and even giving to those whom we don’t know as an act of Christian love.

This is a great time of year to make a special offering to your church.  After all, the Bible tells us “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10).  It is also a good time of  year to give to organizations which focus on the poor.  In yesterday’s meditation, I spoke about giving to World Vision or working with FAM.  As a Pastor, I believe it is vital for you to give to their church.  I also believe it is vital to care for the poor.  How you do that is of much less interest to me than THAT you do it.  In this season let’s remember to fast.  Sometimes by not eating, sometimes by giving.

Let me end with this encouraging message I received from Bruce and Cindy Colville.  They sold paper beads from Uganda last Sunday between services at our church.  Here is their report:

“In keeping with our exhortations to give for the good, to those in need...in the name of Christ —
We sold, no let me change that, Redeemer Church GAVE $975.00 to the Uganda Orphan School in the sale of the paper beads. That is pretty awesome.

Cariana Nash, the young woman in Kampala, has a break-even with each child that needs to be sponsored or is attending the school. (Many of the kids have no support.)  One child's school fees: a uniform (including socks plus a p.e. uniform), breakfast and lunch, necessary school supplies and some small portion toward salaries for teachers/staff, their rent, utilities, etc. is $35US per month.   There are, of course, a lot of other expenses.

Seen another way, two children are fully provided for during this next school year...and then some because of Redeemer’s generosity. That is really awesome.”

Amen to that.