It was only last year that I realized Advent was a penitent season. Cut me some slack though, I was born a Southern Baptist, currently Nazarene, who goes to Catholic confession and loves liturgy. I’m just learning. This Advent season I decided to fast desserts and sugary items, you know, to get on the penitent bandwagon. Several days before the start of Advent, I was not so gently taken to task by one of my children,

“What’s in your mouth?”

“Candy.”

“I thought you were fasting that for Advent?”

“It’s not Advent.”

“Oh, so you’re loading up before it starts.”

Why did I teach them to talk? Finally Advent does start and my intentions are good. Except the Church and the Orchestra needs cupcakes and cookies, dozens and dozens of them. So while I’m baking for three days… Oops- tasted frosting, Oops- that batter needs more cinnamon, and the not so “Oops, forget it all I’ve already failed, I’ll have a brownie.”

And then Sunday comes around, a feast day. Sunday is the day when all bets are off, because Jesus rose from the dead. And no matter how holy we think we are, when a dead guy comes back to life, we party.

But I wasn’t feeling so party like. Sunday morning as I stood at the kitchen sink making my morning cup of tea. The Lord and I had a conversation.

“I’m sorry about all the ways I failed this week. But I’ll make it up to you. I’ll fast today. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I don’t deserve to party today.”

“My resurrection, your redemption, the gift of life, celebration, all of these come from Me and are not dependent on your behavior. Sunday is a gift- not a wage. Be careful to remember that while you eat the cookie this morning.”

Just like that I was reminded that the discipline of fasting is a practice, an exercise, not a mark of holiness. And that this season is a time to prepare for the rare gift of God in human flesh.

And frankly just between you and me and the tens of people who read this blog… this week has been easier, I know it’s only Wednesday, but I feel a strange joy in skipping the sweets. Like the Lord and I have this private joke, and we’re really going to laugh about it over tea and cookies on Sunday.

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