In Scripture, God’s people fast in response to the gaps between God’s good intentions and the reality of brokenness and sin. Throughout Church history, Christians have identified certain seasons, like Advent and Lent, as times of corporate fasting as we live in the gap between our Savior’s resurrection and his return, when all will be made new.
Once again, our congregation is invited to keep a collective fast during the season of Advent. As we lament violence around the world, racial disparities in our city, people displaced from their home countries, and other more personal experiences of grief, the invitation to fast and pray is especially timely.
Because every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, the Church has historically not fasted on the Lord’s Day. We encourage you to treat Sundays as a feast day during Advent and pause your fast to rejoice in our Lord’s faithfulness in all circumstances.
For more of the biblical rationale for fasting, see this recent sermon Pastor David preached at New Community in Logan Square.
Following the precedent of the historic, global Church, we will observe a vegan diet during the Advent fast beginning on December 4. Without being overly prescriptive, the church is asked to simplify their diets as much as possible, including abstaining from alcohol and caffeine. Individuals should adjust the fast to meet any dietary or health needs.
Given the amount of time many of us spend on screens, the church is also asked to abstain from recreational screen time to free space for prayerful reflection, rest, and community.
The fast will end with the Christmas Eve service on December 24.
Rhythm of Prayer
Each of the three weeks of Advent will have a prayer theme. During Sunday worship, time will be given for people to briefly share what they will be lamenting, petitioning, or praising in prayer during the coming week. Additionally, two Psalms have been identified for each week of Advent to guide members in their personal prayer.
Week of December 3: Lament
Week of December 10: Petition
Week of December 17: Praise
The Giving Challenge
Christians have traditionally understood seasons of fasting to include intentional generosity. Please look for opportunities to give freely to those in need during Advent. Additionally, the church is invited to give beyond the 2023 budgeted income. Any extra income will be directed to the future ministry and staff needs the church is preparing for.
20% of any additional income will be tithed to Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Woodlawn for their ministry to migrants. (See the following for coverage of Concord’s ministry: Block Club Chicago, WTTW, ABC 7, and the Chicago Tribune.) The city’s decision to settle migrants in an elementary school it closed in 2013 has placed a particular burden on a community that has experienced generations of systemic disinvestment and structural racism. (See, for example, the unsuccessful fight to keep the neighborhood’s health clinic open in 2012.) As we respond with compassion to the migrants being sent to our city, we will consider this history and direct our efforts and resources through partners like Concord who are best positioned to respond to the realities on the ground in their community.
Currently, Concord is serving their migrant neighbors by offering ESL classes, organizing clothing drives, operating a housing locator service, feeding breakfast at two police precincts on Saturday mornings, and offering a bilingual worship service every other Sunday afternoon.
Pastor David and Rev. Dr. Kenneth Phelps, pastor of Concord, have been friends for a number of years. Join us online on Thursday, December 14 at 7:00 pm for a conversation with Rev. Phelps about the history of Woodlawn and how his congregation discerned the call to minister to migrants. Register for the Zoom link here.
You can support the giving challenge on Sunday mornings during worship or by giving online.