“To fast” means to do without in order to draw closer to God. For 2018, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry asks us to fast on the 21st of each month in solidarity with all who struggle with hunger. His concern is domestic and international.
He names famine and food insecurity due to conflict and climate change as problems we must address. As he explains in For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy, it is around the 21st of the month that recipients of public assistance often go hungry and must make do until the next month begins.
The words, “for such a time as this,” come from the Book of Ester. Ester was the Jewish wife of a Persian King. She interceded in the political gamesmanship of her husband and his viceroy. The Jewish people were to be killed. It was Mordechai who encouraged her to speak up. She, an orphan girl who had found favor with the King, should not remain silent, because she may have been sent for such a time as this. She fasted, advocated, and her people were spared. As often the case with scripture, the details are vivid: the decree to kill the Jews could not be repealed, but because of Ester, the Jews were allowed to defend themselves. What was to be a slaughter became a winnable battle.
On the 21st, fast from something — entertainment, sugary drinks, or dessert — and dig into the details of the struggles we are facing now. Use your voice to speak for those who have no voice –- the poor near us, the refugees far away, and all endangered creatures. Like Ester, we can, with God’s help, bring about a kingdom of compassion and glory. We have been sent here at this time to claim this chance.