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Between the fasts

"Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?..." Isaiah 58.5

Today is Thursday. In Gaelic it is Di-Ardaoin which means "the day between the fasts': Wednesday and Friday being traditional fasting days in some branches of the Church. For our Muslim neighbours, yesterday saw the beginning of Ramadan, their month of fasting which anticipates the festival of Eid, a three day celebration where Muslims don their best clothes and visit friends and relations.

In the Philippines, a community of Muslim-background converts to Christianity decided to build bridges with their erstwhile co-religionists by inviting them to a meal after sunset, which is the only time Muslims can take food during Ramadan. It reminded me of another Christian community of former Muslims - in Jordan. At sunset during Ramadan they go to the busiest streets in the capital, Amman, and distribute food packages to harassed motorists stuck at traffic lights.

Fasting is common to many faiths. Jesus fasted and expects his followers to do the same - appropriately. As the verse above from Isaiah suggests, fasting goes deeper than mere abstinence from food. The prophet continues: "...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?"

It begs the question: how may we deny ourselves in order to bless others - to the glory of God?



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