Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

February 18, 2010

Day 48

Weight: 197 lbs

Weight lost: -9 lbs

 

I’m giving up austerity for Lent. My impulse to beat myself-up in order to win God’s favor seems to die hard.  So I’m tackling this with a diet of joy, supplemented by a daily dose the Lord’s Supper. The original Christians didn’t celebrate Eucharist with cardboard wafers and diluted grape juice. They shared communion the midst of a common meal and sometimes inside a genuine feast. I wonder what we’ve lost. So, I’m giving up austerity for Lent.

The wonderful film “Babette’s Feast” tenderly and playfully challenges Christendom’s assumption that self-denial cuts a path to spirituality. The story takes place on the desolate coast of Denmark in the late 1700’s. Martina and Philippa are the two beautiful daughters of a devout clergyman who prior to his death preached salvation through austerity. Both girls sacrifice their youthful passions, marriage and family to carry on their father’s legacy. Now years later, they still manage to keep alive his version of faithfulness among the townspeople.

Then one stormy night Babette, a refugee from France’s civil war finds her way to their doorstep. She is weak and frightened, and the sisters quickly bring her in. For room and board Babette agrees to cook and care for the house. The sisters draw up rules about what they should eat and how it should be prepared – bland fish and potatoes without seasoning. Babette faithfully complies. Years pass.

Then one day Babette learns that she has won a French lottery. Her winnings would give her full independence. But instead of leaving her new home Babette asks permission to prepare a gift of gratitude for her village – a gourmet French meal! Babette, it turns out, had been one of the most renowned chefs in Paris.

In the end her friends accept her gift and come to see, reluctantly perhaps, that God has created all good things for our enjoyment.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” says the Psalmist (Psalm 34).

“Lord, at the moment of creation you declared all the things you’d made on earth ‘good,’ and even ‘very good.’ I do the same. In this season of Lent help me to pause and enjoy the wonders of your creation, including the delicacies of food that feed my body and soul. Especially help me to be grateful and to remember that you are the source of all good gifts. I remember this in my celebration of communion today. You are with me, in me, over me, around me. You are my God, my everything, my sustenance and satisfaction. Thank you, Jesus!”

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