Meatless Days in Lent
Q: As a Lutheran, am I not supposed to eat meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent?
A: This is completely a matter of Christian freedom. Christ never forbade fasting; He did, however, insist that we not do it to draw attention to ourselves. With fasting, He similarly commended prayer and almsgiving in Matthew 6. If done with the proper spirit, fasting can provide great spiritual benefit, especially in learning to discipline oneself.
Fasting to ready oneself for the great Feast of the Resurrection should reflect the fast one might observe in anticipation of receiving Holy Communion. Of this latter practice, Martin Luther wrote in the Small Catechism, “Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’” Similarly, Lenten fasting prepares us for Easter’s feast, but true preparation comes from believing and confessing Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection.
Luther quote from Luther’s Small Catechism, © 1986 by Concordia Publishing House.
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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