Lord's Day Liturgy

On Not Fasting from Joy

I didn’t pay much attention to Lent growing up. The only effect it had on me was that a Catholic guy who was on my High School basketball team always ordered a couple Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at McDonald’s when our team stopped for food after Friday night away games. At that point in my life I’m not sure I new Latin was a language, let alone anything about the solas or the Protestant Reformation.

Lent is practiced among Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestant groups. Modeled on Jesus’ forty day fast before His ministry, it is the forty (or so) day season before Easter. In that sense it is similar to Advent before Christmas, except that Lent is not about joy that builds in anticipation. Instead of gradually progressing toward the peak of rejoicing in Christ’s birth, it’s digging deeper toward the bottom of Christ’s death, to then catapult back to celebration on resurrection Sunday. Lent is about giving things up, making sure to not have joy in things you usually do, in order to really take seriously what Christ has done.

I can’t recommend observing Lent like this. In fact, I realize that a lot of Christians have been observing a sort of lent every time they observe the Lord’s Table. They must make sure they are not enjoying it in order to show that they are taking seriously what Christ has done.

What you must not enjoy is sin. What you must exalt is salvation. What you must not enjoy is indulging your flesh. What you must exalt is Christ taking on flesh, giving Himself as a sacrifice. What you must not eat is the leaven of malice (1 Corinthians 5:8). What you must eat is true food of Jesus’ flesh (John 6:55). As Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven….And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).

Don’t fast from the Lord’s Supper or try to avoid the joy of your salvation.