Each Ash Wednesday as I am reminded that I am dust and to dust, I shall return, I reread Psalm 51 and
I have sought in the past to fast for Ash Wednesday remembering the preciousness of God’s relationship
with me and fast that I might be reminded to hunger for that relationship as the most precious
relationship to me.
But 2010 changed the fast a bit. I was at the Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Germany with its
theme, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I was in a small group with persons from Finland, Norway,
India, Liberia, Botswana, Indonesia. We were discussing ‘fasting’.
The first world went first, of course.
The Finn spoke to her fasting for the creation and lamented the melting of the tundra.
The Norwegian, a young psychologist, had a spiritual fast she did that I didn’t quite get.
I spoke to fasting as a reminder for me that I am dust and dependent upon God.
The first world was finished.
The third world began to speak.
The woman from India said she fasted each time the food simply ran out.
The woman from Liberia said she fasted when food was gone due to the violence in her land.
The man from Botswana said he fasted when food needed to go to his family members who needed the
food much more than he.
The Bishop/farmer from the Batak church in Indonesia spoke to the fast he had in the weather-induced
spells of time when the land produced little.
All of them spoke to the blessing of putting their trust in God.
This year I remember them again and will place another offering for world hunger.
This year I will remember 300,000 Virginia children who come to school not only to learn but first to eat.
I will use Lent as a time to speak again to the need for universal breakfast. Feeding these children so that
they can learn may be the civil rights issue of today.
This year I will remember children in our partner synod in the Islands District of Papua New Guinea who
would like to sleep beneath the safety of a malaria net. I will make another contribution to our synod’s
desire to send 5,000 nets for the children in our partner synod.
Let us hold them fast in our prayers and so many others we know to be of need.
My sisters and brothers around the globe helped me to see again that Ash Wednesday is also about the
things that I have left undone for my sisters and brothers not just of America but of the whole world
whom God finds so precious. That God holds them fast. So my fast will hold them fast, too, in a very
very small way. But then……I am only dust and to dust, I shall return.
So this is my Lenten fast for all of us:
My soul clings to you, your right-hand holds me/us fast. Ps 63