Attentiveness: Reconciliation, Prayer, and Fasting
This is the first blog post in the covenant series. Read part two.
Reconciliation is at the core of the gospel. God reconciled humanity to himself through the cross. Our own reconciliation with one another then comes as a miraculous extension of reconciliation with God. Like our original time of salvation, reconciliation occurs through humility. We are not saved by what we have done but by recognizing our emptiness and sinfulness and asking simply, “Lord, save me!” There is no pride or hubris in such a call. It is all humility.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Humility is the path to purity and reconciliation. Genuine humility, according to the Great Tradition of the Church from the ancients up to the global Church today, comes from a pure heart that is empty of self and selfish desires and full of the holy longings of God.
Such humility is part of our sanctification, whereby our practices and rhythms of life guide us into deeper humility.
This week we are asking the Gordon-Conwell community to fast on Wednesday, February 1 for a special time of reconciliation and covenant-making. Specifically, we will be fasting and praying for the signing of a unique covenant, a covenant between the seminary and Black church leaders in the Boston area. This unique covenant is the result of meetings between me, Dean Virginia Ward, Chairman of CUME’s Board of Advisors Rev. J. Anthony Lloyd, and about twenty-five Black church leaders.
After years of inconsistencies in Gordon-Conwell’s commitment to training Black leaders and many other hurts, misunderstandings, and broken promises, reconciliation has been made a priority for the flourishing of the seminary and the Church. We have dedicated ourselves over the last year to listen to these issues, confess past sins, pray, celebrate communion together, and agree that we will have a new beginning: a covenant that binds us together in mutual love and service to those around us. This covenant and the relationships it engenders will be a signpost of the Kingdom.
Our call to prayer and fasting is critical. I am sure that the Evil One will resist all our efforts to be reconciled. He would certainly not want us to confess, repent, and then commit to a covenant that we revisit every year. Satan divides and kills. Jesus, God in the flesh, brings resurrected life and union with himself and with one another.
And so, we fight these spiritual battles with empty stomachs and on our knees. Why fast? Fasting relegates our desires and needs away from the center and helps us focus on Christ and others. It is an ancient practice assumed by Jesus and a central Christian practice throughout history.
Many do not know this, but the Board of Trustees of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has agreed to fast on Mondays for the sake of God’s work through the seminary. We are a fasting and praying institution.
And on February 6, in all humility and through God’s grace, we will be known as a reconciling and covenanting institution.
Do fast and pray that God’s love and power will be revealed.
 Matthew 5:24, also expressed as our unity in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17.
 Elliott, Charlotte. “Just as I Am.” 1835.
 More information about the covenant will be shared on our website after our covenant signing and breaking of bread on February 6.
Dr. Scott W. Sunquist, President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is author of the “Attentiveness” blog. He welcomes comments, responses, and good ideas.