Among all the history essays, one of the most significant pieces of writing I did while at university was a piece on fasting for the (sadly now defunct) magazine Christis. I’d had the bright idea that the spiritual discipline of fasting would be a perfect way to save money and keep within my limited budget. However, I made the mistake of checking out what the Bible says about fasting and the piece I wrote was about how Isaiah 58 had stopped me in my tracks. In my reflection, I realised that fasting with your eye mainly on your own benefit is missing the point.
A key message of that chapter in Isaiah is that God is passionately concerned about social justice. Therefore, while it is more of a non-violent protest action than an act of “spiritual” devotion (in the small sense of the word – not the fullness of spirituality that makes up the abundant life promised by Jesus in John 10:10), I think the End Hunger Fast campaign is very worthwhile and I am taking part. It is a shame on the developed nation of Britain that emergency measures like food banks have been on the increase while we still throw so much edible food away. Problems like this are an area politicians can make a difference to when they don’t get distracted by petty party point scoring and this national day of fasting is a deliberately political move to draw attention to this.
I should have mentioned this before. If you are only hearing about it for the first time, you’ve probably had breakfast, prepared your lunch and got something in mind for dinner (unless you are one of that too-large group who often face bare cupboards). Will it make a difference? I’m not sure how widespread the campaign has been but I think that God, who doesn’t hide the fact that he loves social justice and us choosing to care for others rather than exploit them, will be smiling.