In early Christianity, the Church would prepare for Christmas the same way it prepared for Easter, through fasting. Lent is the season before Easter which calls for a fast as a way of discipleship. We fast during Lent as Christ did during His time in temptation. Of course the temptation never left Jesus, for He was tempted until He completed His mission on the cross. Advent is the season before Christmas and it calls for a fast as a way of preparation. Four weeks of fasting to help prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. So the question that we need to ask ourselves is, do we fast or not?
I believe a fast is appropriate during the season of Advent. I have personally never tried it, but maybe I will next year. For Advent is a season of preparation and expectation. Some churches normally light candles symbolizing the Light coming into the world. The Light has already dawned in the world through the birth of Jesus which is the Christmas season, however Advent is also the Light coming into the world again to complete His work. One of the main teachings of the church is that Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead” (Apostles Creed). Are you prepared?
Think of the implications a fast might produce if you decided to fast during the season of Advent. You purposely decide to fast something as a sign that you only need God in your life. In a season bent toward giving and receiving, food and abundance, decorating with hustle and bustle, what would your walk with Christ be like if you also decided to withhold. To calm down, to give up, to depend only on God, to prepare yourselves for the coming of Christ by focusing our energy on Him, not just on the celebration of the season.
Jesus gives us a parable about His coming in Matthew 25,
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten young bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Now five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t bring oil for them. But the wise ones took their lamps and also brought containers of oil.
“When the groom was late in coming, they all became drowsy and went to sleep. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the groom! Come out to meet him.’
“Then all those bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the foolish bridesmaids said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out.’
“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘No, because if we share with you, there won’t be enough for our lamps and yours. We have a better idea. You go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the groom came. Those who were ready went with him into the wedding. Then the door was shut.
“Later the other bridesmaids came and said, ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us.’
“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore, keep alert, because you don’t know the day or the hour.
This is a very compelling parable of Jesus. Which bridesmaid are you? Jesus will return for His faithful and complete the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Will you be prepared for this? What if He comes during the Christmas meal, or during the unwrapping of presents, or when Santa Clause comes to town? Are you prepared? Do you expect this to happen today, tomorrow, this week?
To prepare our hearts and our bodies for the coming Groom, maybe it is time to not get into the hustle and bustle. Maybe it is time to slow down, contemplate, “be silent and know God.” How will you prepare your lives? Maybe, putting a fast back in your life during the season of Advent will help you remember that God is the One who is most important. God is the One who provides. God is the One who is in control of your life…