Attachment to a Lesser Good

Wednesday, March 4th 2020

At the Ash Wednesday Service I spoke about fasting. This week I would like to write a little further on the topic.

For our purposes I will define fasting as going without something for a period of time. Usually, we are talking about food or a meal. But there are other pleasures or indulgences from which we can fast.

Often you hear talk about giving up something for Lent. Not untypically, someone might decide to give up chocolates, or desserts. In the Roman Catholic Tradition people give up eating red meats on Wednesdays and Fridays, hence the popularity of fish fries on Friday evenings.

But whatever the fast, and whether it is done with special emphasis during the 40-day Season of Lent, or at other times, I want to address the purpose. And for starters I want to eliminate two unworthy objectives. First, fasting is not a way to win God’s favor. No work or effort on our part merits God’s grace. And second, fasting is not meant to impress other people.

Perhaps one way to think of fasting is to understand that by nature as human beings we become attached to things. Some of the things to which we become attached are unhealthy and not wholesome. Harmful addictions fall into this category. Of such attachments we need not fasting, but deliverance.

There are other things to which we are attached that are good in themselves. But the attachment to a lesser good can crowd out our attachment and attention to a greater good. The lesser good can become an idol. The First Commandment is: You shall have no other gods.

When by the grace of God we lay aside a lesser good, when we say “No” once in a while to the desire for something other than God, this can have the beneficial effect in making time for the most excellent thing in our life – that of communing with our Lord. He is, after all, the source of all that is good.

Since You Asked…

What is an Alb? And why does our Pastor wear one?

Alb (from the Latin “white”): a white ankle-length vestment with sleeves, often gathered at the waist with a cincture, worn by all ranks of ministers, ordained and unordained. The classical tunic became a specific church vestment about the fifth century. One of the functions of an ordained minister in our tradition is for that person to represent Christ to the people. Christ is pictured in the Book of Revelation with a white robe. The white robe is also a symbol of his righteousness. For this reason, the alb is a proper covering for the presiding minister with the function of representing Christ to the people. (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)

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