A Letter from the Vicar
Fasting before Feasting
In the week leading up to Christmas, a radio programme I particularly appreciated was a conversation with a Ukrainian woman who was explaining how she was preparing for Christmas amidst the bombs, missiles, fighting, and devastation that has become part of her everyday existence. It certainly put our Christmas celebrations into context! What was especially fascinating were their customs around food at this season. I found out about a meal that was prepared and eaten on Christmas Eve called ‘kutia’. This is a grain dish with gravy eaten on Christmas Eve, with various vegetables and often fried fish.
However, I have since discovered that this is not eaten on 24th December as I originally thought but rather on 6th January which is the eve of January 7th when those who follow the Julian calendar in the Eastern Orthodox countries (including Ukraine) celebrate Christmas. The purpose behind this meal is to provide an opportunity for ‘fasting’ before ‘feasting’ something like the way we might give up things in Lent before the feasting on chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday!
Following the Path of ‘Discipleship’
This month sees the beginning of Lent, a time of ‘fasting’ and reflection on penitence in preparation for the feast of Easter. At our Ash Wednesday service hosted by St. Saviours at 7pm on Wednesday 22nd February we will read Isaiah 58:1-12 (why not turn and read it now?).
This Bible passage about fasting sees the Jews complaining that God doesn’t see when they are fasting, and God showing up their hypocrisy when their behaviour towards the poor and oppressed is not consistent with living disciplined lives and following God’s way of discipleship.
As we begin to think how we are to prepare for Easter through the season of Lent, may our lives reflect Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24-26) But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy pancakes at the Pancake Party on Shrove Tuesday! (Page 11).