by the Rev. Rich Heinz
If you have ever watched The Biggest Loser, one of the bits of information you may have gleaned is this: skipping meals does NOT help weight loss. Long-term fasting is not going to make you healthy. Changing which foods, or the serving size can make a difference, but skipping meals altogether actually has the opposite of its desired outcome.
Our spiritual life also can be harmed by "skipping meals." If we slip out of the habit of weekly coming to be fed in the Divine Service, our faith's health suffers. Coming to church once or twice a month is like skipping a couple meals each day. It wreaks havoc on our systems, and actually harms us.
As Lutherans, we do not believe the non-biblical saying: "Once saved, always saved." There is a true danger of faith starving and drying up...dying a slow death until a supposed Christian is actually an unbeliever. It is a frightening and deadly reality that avoiding church may reach the point of killing faith and damning to hell.
This danger to faith is greatly strengthened when one skips services. The danger increases when we do not take advantage of attending Bible Class or Sunday School to be fed His Word even more. The danger takes hold when we start believing the excuses we make for "despising preaching and His Word."
Lent provides a great opportunity for every one of us. During this holy season, we are given great opportunities to be nourished by the Lord. He bids us come to hear and be fed in the Sunday Divine Services. He builds us up on Wednesday evenings with His Word in Vespers. He keeps calling us to study His Scriptures together. He encourages us to exercise our faith in increasing our giving to the poor and those in need. And He encourages us in brief, thought-filled fasting, to train our bodies and keep us focused on His Holy Gifts.
As we enter these sacred days, if you decide to fast for your body, remember not to let your soul fast as well! Don't refuse to feed on His Holy Word! Don't cut down on how much or how often you are eating from the Lord's Table! Increase the portions for your nourishment! Come to the Supper Table to hear our Father speak, and to feast on the life-giving Lamb.
In spiritual terms, this will actually cause you to exercise and grow in strength - not through your own strength, but through the Gospel; through the loving mercy of God, as He showers His mercy and grace on you through these same, nourishing Gifts!
Yes, cutting calories can be so extreme that it is unhealthy. So don't abstain; come to the Table. Our Savior will lead you to "eat right" so that He might make you right with the Father. And here your health will be nourished, "steadfast in the true faith, unto life everlasting."
Rev. Rich Heinz is Pastor of St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church in Lanesville, IN.
Created: February 25th, 2009