Sermon: Lent and Fasting – Rev. Thomas Low

Thomas Low preaching at BLC - 9 Mar 2014

This morning, we had the privilege of having a good friend of BLC and pastor of Luther House Chapel, Rev. Thomas Low, preach the message. He spoke from Matthew 17:14-21, as a continuation of Transfiguration account.

His sermon started off by pointing out that the disciples experienced a “mountain top experience” when they saw Jesus transfigured. Such “mountain top experiences” are typically assumed to be the best, the pinnacle of our Christian experience.

Yet, immediately after their mountain top experience, they encountered an unmet need in the form of a man possessed by demons. The disciples went on to ask, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”

Pastor Thomas went on to say that the measure of Christian life is not the number of mountain top experiences, but our continued faithfulness in living fully in Him. However, instead of pursuing God, Christians sometimes pursue mountain top experiences instead – but life and faith are not static.

Pastor Thomas then went on to talk about fasting, from Jesus’ answer to His disciples – in verse 21 (which isn’t included in some translations of the Bible!): “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Before that, he took time to clear up a few misconceptions about fasting: it is neither purposely skipping meals (that’s what he’d call “volunteered starvation”) nor is it to diet just because the doctor said you needed to lose weight. Instead, fasting must be purposeful… which is why it’s inseparable from prayer.

Fasting reminds us of our humanity. It reminds us about our need: we are creatures who need sustenance – we get hungry and thirsty.

Fasting humbles us. It reminds us that we are not the center of the world – just because we don’t have food or water, it doesn’t mean that the world will pause to take notice. It reminds us not to confuse the created with the Creator.

Fasting is a sign of our desire and commitment. It is a mistake to “use” fasting like magic (doing something in the natural to control the supernatural) or to blackmail God (like a hunger strike). It’s not about just giving up something you like for the sake of it – it is more about giving up something that has come between you and God, which makes our spiritual life less than it should be. Fasting brings us to the point of saying, “Lord, I commend this part to You, that the other parts that are lacking may be enriched to Your glory.”

In so doing, when we fast, it may may lead us in that one area, to an Easter where we can truly understand how “The Lord Is Risen”.

#FastForMalaysia – Join us for peace and unity in Malaysia!

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#FastForMalaysia is the brainchild of Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Rev. Sivin Kit and Niki Cheong. This year, on Wednesday, 31 July 2013, Malaysians from all walks of life will rise above race, creed and political standing by coming together to fast for peace and unity in Malaysia. Aptly, this is being done in the holy month of Ramadhan, where our Muslim friends are already fasting.

Fast for Malaysia was inaugurated in 2009 as a grassroots movement for peace and the betterment of Malaysia. More than 900 people in Malaysian and overseas came together to have a pre-fasting meal (sahur), to fast together and break fast at the end of the day, together.

This year is no different (from Fast for Malaysia 2013’s Mission Statement):

Malaysia is a peaceful country and it should remain that way forever. Acts of Violence and inciting hatred must have no place in our public life.

Unfortunately, too many cruelties and injustices have happened in the past few years and of late there has been a heightening of these incidences.

It is tempting to slip into despair or become revengeful. Let us turn our anger and sadness into a positive force for change.

This July 31, let us all combine our efforts to present a meaningful gift for Malaysia ahead of her 50th year of establishment.

Let us be united in one single action. Let us all fast from dawn to dusk for peace in this blessed land. Let the Muslims amongst us fast with a specific prayer for peace for the nation. Let the Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Taoists, followers of other spiritual traditions and atheists amongst us fast in solidarity and the same determination for peace.

Let our common experience of hunger and human weakness humble, strengthen and unite us.

Let us offer a hospitable smile to people we know and especially to those we don’t.

Let us perform one extra act of kindness while fasting on this special day.

Let us show our love and compassion for each other.

Let Malaysia be a better country on her 50th birthday and every day after.

Let Malaysia be truly happy and peaceful.

And so we fast.

… to make room for justice and peace!

As a church, we are encouraging as many as possible to participate in this meaning and important initiative – and do our little bit for Malaysia. Here’s how you can support the movement:

1. Pledge to fast

Let us know you’ll be fasting by:

  1. Pledging on your social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) using the #Fast4Malaysia hashtag.
  2. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post (If comments section do not appear, click here) or via Facebook.
  3. Sign this petition.

If you want, you can also include your real name (for those using nicknames/ pseudonyms on social networks), age and location.

2. Spread the word

Share the link to this Tumblr (http://fast4malaysia.tumblr.com) or the petition (http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/malaysians-fast-for-malaysia-on-july-31-2013) to your circle of friends, family and colleagues. Again, if you’re sharing this on your social networks, don’t forget the #Fast4Malaysia hashtag.

Please try to get your friends and family from outside the Klang Valley – or even outside of Malaysia! – to sign up as well.

3. Fast with your family and friends!

On July 31, break fast (or have the pre-fast meal) together with your friends wherever you are.

Here are the standard recommendations which you may modify according to your preferences, medical conditions and other circumstances.

  • Get a group of at least three people.
  • Have your pre-fast meal together before dawn (e.g. before 5.35am for Muslims*). The meal is preferably vegetarian to be inclusive to all.
  • Carry out your daily duties and tasks as usual.
  • Smile and do an extra act of kindness to people around you or afar.
  • Share your message of peace with every curious person.
  • Break your fast together after dusk (e.g. after 7.25 pm for Muslims*). The meal is preferably vegetarian to be inclusive to all.

4. If you’re in the Klang Valley and looking for someone to have a pre-fast meal with, join us at Devi’s Corner in Bangsar from 4.30am onwards on July 31! 

5. Share your experience, feeling and thought in this national fasting exercise with more people, in every possible way.

Post pictures, videos and your thoughts from the pre-fast, break fast or just your experience of fasting on your social networks using the #Fast4Malaysia hashtag.

If you’re not on any of those social networks (or have private accounts), you can manually upload your thoughts/pictures/videos/links to your own blog posts via this submission page.

Join us as we seek for peace, unity and the overall goodness of Malaysia!