Recently I was in a small lectio group that explored a short passage in Luke 5. In the course of the conversation it came up that often we put fasting and feasting on opposite ends of a spectrum. After further reflection we pondered if this is a false dichotomy. We wondered if fasting and feasting are just two postures of the same coin.
If we look at fasting as a posture and not just an activity of abstaining from food, then the posture of fasting is one of somberness, seriousness and reverence. Likewise, if feasting was a posture it might be the posture of joyfulness, celebration, and lightheartedness.
There are times that we need to take the posture of fasting and there are other times where the posture of feasting is called for. In our churches it seems like there are very strong pressures on people to conform to a specific posture to the detriment of the other posture.
For instance, there is a strong posture of fasting when it comes to communion. This sacrament is seen as a very serious thing. There is no joking around. Those who are laughing or running or being even the slightest bit silly are out of line. The posture of fasting is appropriate for communion but it is not the only appropriate posture for communion.
The posture of feasting is also appropriate at communion. Some churches call the minister the "celebrant" (see this post about presiding vs. celebrating) . We talk about the "feast at the Lord's table". We should take joy in the forgiveness and reconciliation that comes at the table of the the Lord. The posture of feasting is also appropriate for communion, but it is often a posture that is not embraced by the whole (just read some of the comments in this post).
Could it be that we have the capacity to embody both postures at the same time? Could we be serious and at the same time recognize the joy of in situation? Can we be celebratory and reverent at the same time? Can we fast with a feasting attitude and could we feast with a fasting attitude?
Or is it just one or the other?