And sometimes, albeit rare, there are Lenten fasts which fall into both categories. I have one of them this year. Though it may initially sound whimsical and dismissive, I assure you that I am serious about this - and the outcome just might be serious all the more.
This year I abstain from inner-church conflict.
Some will want to roll their eyes over this one, but consider my context. Most of the people that browse this blog know that I pastor a church. Some of you know that this particular church has been riddled with internal conflict for many years, and that our family walked into a rather volatile situation just over one year ago. Amidst all the attacking, I am declaring a holy fast - from making any sort of response.
There will likely need to be some parameters set in place. After all, I am a pastor and cannot rightly see others being attacked without stepping in to mediate. (I am not talking about abstaining from this activity.) But I am saying that any personal defense of my actions, when I am maligned or attacked, will simply stand unanswered. I will stand before God alone and let the world think what it will.
I suppose, in a very Abraham Lincoln-esque way, that keeping silent is the only way to assure that there will be no deceit found in my mouth - as there was none in Christ's. For it was Lincoln who aptly reminded us that it is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
And I am so ready to get out of the rhythm of conflict that my Lenten fast begins a bit early this year. For I have, over the last few weeks, already moved to this end. And sometimes Lent takes us to a place where we should never resume our old life again.