It's Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It seems like a lot of Baptists scoff at this tradition, even if ignorant of its meaning. "It's Catholic," they say. "It's an empty ritual without meaning." But ideally, a corporate fast commenced by putting ash on one's head, spanning 40 days, emphasizing our need for confession, repentance and denying self is a very biblical thing. I am not calling our church, or Southern Baptist churches, to observe Lent, though I don't have a problem with a church participating in that tradition. But for all of our scoffing, where are our public/corporate fasts? Where are our solemn assemblies? Where are our traditions that emerge from Scripture and connect with our church and culture? The Reformed tradition has long emphasized private and corporate fasting, but I rarely hear of it, or see it today. How is it that something Jesus presumes will be a reality among his people is so absent from our lives?
This past Sunday at Grace I announced that each week preceeding our celebration of the Lord's Supper will be a Week of Repentance and Reconciliation. This coming Sunday is the first day of that week. This is a time to examine ourselves, our lives and our relationships, repent of our sins and seek reconciliation with those we have wronged, or have been wronged by. Some of you will be fasting. Of course, these are things we are often called to do, but we are using the week prior to communion as an opportunity to "excell still more."