I'm not sure how many of you have heard of Brian McLaren. He is a pretty prominent leader in a sort of post-Modern Christian movement known by some as the Emergent Church. He and some other Christians are fasting for Ramadan, along with Muslim friends of theirs.
Here is an excerpt from his blog explaining the purpose of the fast.
"We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness. Each of us will have at least one Muslim friend who will serve as our partner in the fast. These friends welcome us in the same spirit of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness.
We will seek to avoid being disrespectful or unfaithful to our own faith tradition in our desire to be respectful to the faith tradition of our friends. For example, since the Bible teaches us the importance of fasting and being generous to the poor, we can participate as Christians in fidelity to the Bible as our Muslim friends do so in fidelity to the Quran.
Among the core values of Ramadan are self control, expressing kindness, and resolving conflicts. For this reason, if we are criticized or misunderstood by Christians, Muslims, or others for this endeavor, we will avoid defending ourselves or engaging in arguments. Instead, we will seek to explain ourselves humbly, simply, and briefly when necessary, connecting with empathy to the needs and feelings of others as we express our own.
Our main purpose for participating will be our own spiritual growth, health, learning, and maturity, but we also hope that our experience will inspire others to pray and work for peace and the common good, together with people of other faith traditions.
May God bless all people, and teach us to love God and love one another, and so fulfill our calling as human beings."
Another pastor, Ben Ries has written an article about his experience of fasting Ramadan.
I think that fasting Ramadan, even for the non-Muslim, can have lasting spiritual implications. There are some days that Christians traditionally fast, or observe partial fasts, such as Catholics during lent. There is also the Bible fast of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, which is a 24 hour total fast observed by Jews and certain Christian groups today. However, there are very few other times that Christians undertake fasts as a community. I think that Christians and Muslims both can use the time of Ramadan as a time of introspection into our own communities. By humbling ourselves and fasting, God can reveal to each of us what we are doing right and wrong in our own faith.
Some conservative Christian organizations have blasted McLaren and others for undertaking a Ramadan fast. For me, it makes a lot of sense. Fasting Ramadan was something I started doing quite a few years ago when I first started looking into Islam. I think that those who criticize people like McLaren have probably never had a close Muslim friend or neighbor who was a good example of Islam to them.
I hope that all of us who are spending more time in prayer and introspection during this month will be drawn close to our Creator. Amin.