As we are approaching the second Sabbath in Lent I decided to do some research about the origins of the fast of Lent. What I discovered makes a direct connection to Creation Care. The Lenten fast may have originated for practical as well as liturgical reasons. During the era of subsistence agriculture, fasting conserved dwindling food stores from the previous autumn harvest at a time of year when little or no new food-crop was expected. In its earliest form, Lent was an intense period of fasting and prayer for catechumens preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil. Fasting during Lent was both practical and liturgical! We fasted because there wasn’t enough food to feed the people. We fasted for our neighbors. We fasted because of necessity for all. It’s a great connection to what we can do for others when we pay attention to our global needs.
Here in Hollywood, we have so many people who go hungry. Most of us jump to the homeless, runaways, and immigrant families, but I assure you, many others are going hungry as well. Hollywood is the one-stop-shop for artists and filmmakers, editors and writers, actors and musicians. Many of these people work random ‘gigs’ and one or two jobs just to try to stay afloat in Los Angeles. It is extremely expensive to live here semi-comfortably. Many middle class people are losing their homes, and the housing crisis keeps getting worse and worse. You might be surprised if you knew who stopped at food banks these days.
Which brings me back to Lent and the garden. A former worship leader and I went to the garden today to weed and tend the land. As I thought about this time of Lenten fasting and the food that’s growing in our plot, I couldn’t help but to imagine our community of Hollywood as one of those communities who sought to take care of one another earnestly. If I had to miss a meal in order for someone to eat, that doesn’t seem too difficult a task in thought. In fact I feel as though we may be missing a valuable lesson by avoiding this fasting journey of Lent. Maybe this seems a bit idealistic, but I would like to challenge us to think beyond idealism and right into the hearts of those around us. Growing food is one step, but for you it may look like creating art for the community to appreciate and enjoy. No matter what it looks like, use the gift God gave you, especially during Lent.
Isaiah 58 (specifically v. 10) talks about satisfying the needs of the oppressed during a time of fasting. In fact, there seems to be a direct focus on true fasting and a heightened awareness of bringing justice to the oppressed. It’s not as much awareness as it is action.
The carrot seedlings started pushing through this week and so did the kale. I’m excited to see how many people a 5′ x 15′ plot can feed. I pray everyday that God will make abundant our loaves and fishes and remind us that someone nearby may be hungry. USC is doing there part. I found this article impressive. May this Lenten reflection fill you with hope and courage to take action in your own community in whatever way you feel called.