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Pastor Andrew Hinderlie

Pastor’s Pondering March 2023


In the Small Catechism, Luther says, “Fasting and bodily preparation are indeed fine outward training.” 



As I write this pondering in New Orleans during these first days of Lent I have been staying with friends who are Catholic.  For them fasting is a sacred tradition and obligatory during Lent that includes fasting, almsgiving and prayer.  They are required to give up meat on Fridays till Easter as part of their fast along with other things they might choose on their own. I’ve enjoyed talking with them about the differences in that Lutherans are not obligated to give up material things though many of us do but rather Lent is about giving up sin, which they also acknowledge.

When I was a kid  we ate rice on Wednesdays as a reminder that for much of the world that is their only staple and maybe the only thing they might have to eat.  My parents would then give the money they would spend on a normal meal for us to the church for helping the needy.  We also had Lenten coin holders that each day would hold a dime or quarter and when it was filled at the end of the time would also be turned into the church as part of our special Lenten giving.      


Although fasting is not required by our denomination as far as material things such as food or the like, when I do fast I am reminded that God provides those things as well as all that I have and in doing so helps me appreciate them more and even stops me from wanting them as much.

Perhaps to understand the true element of fasting, that is to fast from sin, can help us see how we are utterly dependent upon God for our salvation.  No amount of fasting from something will save me, only what happens at the end of the forty days with Good Friday and Easter.  So perhaps instead of fasting or abstaining from something such as chocolate and ice cream, we might follow Isaiah 58: 5 “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

There are so many things we could include doing during Lent.  As Dr. Martin Luther wrote, “God does not need  your good works, but your neighbor does.”

As I end this the words of an old hymn come to mind, “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do if with his love he befriends you.”  In this Lenten season may we feel the forgiveness and love that the Almighty does gives us in the promises already given in Christ Jesus when we come out the other end of the forty days.

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