FASTING AGAINST A DIVIDED BODY
by Brent Laytham
One of the great joys of our EP Gatherings is eating together. We break bread with friends old and new, discovering at a common table our common life in Christ. That makes it all the more painful that many of us who endorse The Ekklesia Project cannot come together as one body at the Eucharistic table of our Lord. Several years ago, we spent an entire Gathering exploring that pain.
This year our Gathering explored another division that scars the body of Christ—race. Both visibly and invisibly, race and racism have divided us from sharing together at our Lord’s one table. Confronting that reality for three days has renewed my commitment to the Friday fast that EP endorsers commit themselves to. Heretofore, I have fasted because that’s what Methodist pastors do, and because it was a simple practice of solidarity with my sisters and brothers in The Ekklesia Project. But now, committed to “Crossing the Divide,” I am also fasting as a practice of judgment—judgment against my ongoing racism, judgment against our racially segregated churches, judgment against every failure to receive what Christ has already done—broken down the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:14).
Today I fast, not just to be in solidarity with you all, but especially to hunger for the full unity of Christ’s church.
I am not a faster: I find that working in an office makes the growling of my stomache and the light-headedness that comes quite quickly do not make for good performance. But Brent's brevity and correctness give me pause, and I think I may have to explore this spiritual practice more. (After all, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus assumes that his disciples will fast.) Divisions within the Body of Christ are an ab0mination, and if anything is worth fasting about, that would be at the top of my list.