Fasting Is Walking alongside Christ
In the church calendar, Shrovetide immediately precedes the Lenten period, and the name for this time (Esto mihi, which is Latin for “be for me”) refers to preparing for a period of fasting. The actual pre-Easter fasting, which lasts forty working days, begins with Ash Wednesday. Lent – the time of fasting – culminates in the Passion Week preceding Easter.
Nowadays, fasting is spoken of in many different ways. More and more people are focusing on mental wellbeing and calm. Fasting for some can be an aspiration for a simple lifestyle. For another, it can mean stopping in the midst of a busy day to think about what is important and essential in life.
There should be more talk about the spiritual significance of fasting. Fasting in the Lutheran tradition invites us to examine ourselves and exhorts us to be obedient to God’s will, to follow Jesus, to carry the cross and to help our neighbor. It is a great opportunity to quieten and pause before the Word of God.
The biblical content of Lent is revealed by following the course of the church year. The church calendar consists of Bible texts which address the salvation history, and it opens to us God’s revelation in all its richness. On Shrove Sunday, Jesus’ public works reaches its turning point. The journey to Jerusalem, toward suffering and death, begins. But it is on this very path that the Son of Man is glorified. Divine love triumphs as it submits itself to death.
Lent is a time of preparation for the great celebration, Easter. As such, it means joining Christ and in our hearts walking alongside Him in on the way of suffering, which has been the most difficult. Lent, or fasting, is preparation for Jesus’ crucifixion – and His joyous resurrection.
From the viewpoint of salvation, it is essential that one relies on the gospel of God’s kingdom and believes in Jesus, who suffered and died for the sins of all the world. With His resurrection, He won over the power of sin and death and opened the way to heaven for His followers.
This article was originally published in Finnish as the editorial in the February 26, 2020, issue of Päivämies. Translated and published with permission. Translation: M. Keranen