Yesterday, we gathered as families and friends around a banquet table to give thanks to God. Some of us began the day with Divine Liturgy, some opting to enjoy a relaxing morning with family, but we all were thankful to the many gifts we received. Whether we recognize all the gifts or not, we were thankful. Today, the ‘day after’, many of us are looking at a packed refrigerator of leftovers and wondering how to get back on track with our fasting. How do ignore all that food?
For starters, I commend you for working to get back on track with your fasting. In the gluttony of social thanksgiving traditions, cooking for three times the people that are gathered has somehow become how we express our gratitude. If we didn’t cook so much, we wouldn’t have so many leftovers. It’s that simple, but that’s for next year, so begin there. Make a note in your holiday traditions book to not cook for people who are not in attendance. It will not only be cheaper, but it will also mean much fewer leftovers. If you did cook too much food, which most do, and you are not able to give some to others, go ahead and finish the food today.
One way to get back on track with fasting is generational. It can be easier for adults to fast with a refrigerator full of turkey and dressing, than for children. Children tend to fast less strictly than adults anyway, so this plan can get adults back on track while not wasting food from yesterday. We are always learning to live our Orthodoxy and teaching our children to live Orthodoxy, so this process of getting back on track should be a learning opportunity. Have the conversation with your children about fasting as well as not wasting food. Wasting food is sinful. Not fasting is not sinful, and learning the difference is a large part of what fasting teaches us in the first place.
One final thing about the ‘day after’ that we should consider as Orthodox Christians. Life is not about shopping! The rush to be the first in line for ‘Black Friday Sales’ has become also more of a tradition than the Thanksgiving banquet. I understand the desire to save money on things you need to purchase, but don’t make today about shopping ‘till you drop. Learning the difference between needing and wanting is why we fast in the first place. We will lose any benefit of fasting by replacing eating meat with shopping.
Living the Orthodox Christian way of life is never easy, but it is always rewarding. In the spirit of giving thanks to God for the Faith He has given to us, let’s get back on track today. When we live the Faith, the peace we gain in our hearts can be a witness to others of God’s grace. If we, like so many will today, panic about finding the best sales and eating the best leftover turkey soup, we will have lost everything. Take a moment and read today’s Gospel lesson in the context of today’s blog and allow yourself to be inspired that the gift God has given to us, is the Sacred Tradition of the Church. If we share it with others, He will bless us. If we hide it, even that will be taken from us.
The Lord said this parable, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, 'Trade with these till I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' When he returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.' (And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten pounds!') 'I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'" And when he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. – Luke 19.12-28
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