"Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand..." Joel 2.1
Trumpets are sounded for many reasons in the Old Testament: to summon the faithful to worship, to feast, to fast and, occasionally, to fight. In 329AD Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, initiated the practice of announcing the date of Easter every year and accompanied his pronouncement with a pastoral letter on a selected topic. In his first, he addresses the matter of fasting. Referring to various admonitions from both Old and New Testaments of the Bible, he insists that fasting is as much about our inward intentions as it is about our outward abstentions. In other words, for a fast to be pleasing to God it must involve more than going through the motions (giving up chocolate or taking up charity work); it must be done reflectively and for the purpose of drawing closer to God, so that God can take the gesture of our fasting and use it to transform us from the inside out.