The Lord has given us this day for repentance. Do not waste it on vain pursuits.
St. Isaac the Syrian
Fasting is not a part of the Baptist faith. Although some of us are willing to give up a couple of foods for Lent, getting us to observe the Nativity Fast of the Orthodox Church is like expecting the Chicago Cubs to win the FIFA World Cup of Football. Thanksgiving is here and we will be attending Christmas parties, feast, and dinners until New Year’s Day. There are way too many food temptations around to swear off deserts or red meat, to say the least about going vegan. Yet in my upbringing, I find a foundation to observe the fast.
Deacon John R. Gresham, Sr., who loves Christmas more than any other holiday, deeply believes in selflessness. Daddy does not buy anything for himself from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas. If his rain coat were to tear on December 12th, he’d patch it up the best he could. Or if his axe handle was broken on November 30th, he would borrow his neighbor’s if need be. Other than gas for his vehicle, and perhaps a small sandwich, it was selfish to give to one’s self. God gave his Son to us. So, this season, we must focus on giving to others.
Deaconess Mickey Gresham is committed to sharing the special meal. Each year, mom will buy inexpensive, little gifts and have them on our breakfast plates on Christmas morning. Presents under a tree from Santa are nice. But, the first meal of the day is symbolized with a present. Among the breakfast items, she serves chitterlings (chittlins). They are a reminder of the humble origins of African-Americans and, some of us, still consider them a seasonal delicacy (I think they are delicious).
During this fast, I will make the effort to following the example of my parents. Chances are they will not convert to Orthodoxy (daddy was curious, yet unimpressed with my living room icon corner). But, they have prepared me to follow the practices of Orthodox spirituality. If and when I do convert, these practices of my Baptist parents will be a part of me.