"Breaking Fast Together" by Cotton Fite, St. Luke's Episcopal Church (Evanston, IL)

Many decades ago when Vietnam aroused the passion of my congregation, regular fasting was less a spiritual discipline for us than an organizing tool. When the invitation came to join Ta’anit Tzedek, the Jewish Fast for Gaza, it felt more like a spiritual discipline than an organizing tool. But it has become that as well. My Episcopal parish is of the Anglo-Catholic variety which means spiritual disciplines are at least part of our tradition. I announced it at Sunday Eucharist and anticipated a few die-hards would sign up. To my surprise, people of all ages (15-20 of them so far) kept coming up to say they would be fasting with me that third Thursday in July. Several days before the fast, a young adult suggested she use her electronic network to gather those available to break fast together, talk about the people of Gaza and our experience of fasting. 12 parishioners and a few others attracted by the cause gathered to share a meal, talk about the situation in Gaza and watch Philip Rizk’s new little video, "This Palestinian Life, Village Stories of Sumoud and Nonviolent Resistance." And we gathered a sizable purse to send to ANERA, the Milk for Preschoolers Campaign. The following Sunday an elderly parishioner whispered to me, “You know, I felt euphoric at the end of the day.”

We will gather again to break fast on August 19. I think the fast attracts our people because it invites us back into a spiritual discipline we have let slide and helps address the powerlessness we feel to turn this human tragedy around.