“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:6-9a)
ONE CHOICE FOR LOVE THIS LENT
Kathy Reed said at the noonday Ash Wednesday service today that the last time Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fell on the same day was in 1956. (Then she emailed me later and said it was actually in 1945.) Either way, it seems appropriate that this should happen once in a while - at least every 60-70 years... at least once in the average lifespan. On a date when the focus is all about love, isn’t that a great way reminder for the first day of Lent?
In the various readings for the Ash Wednesday liturgy, we are invited to a time of self-examination, and we are reminded to be people of love and compassion... people that work for justice. (See, for example, the portion of the Isaiah 58 reading, above)
If you are anything like me, you can be tempted to try to amend your life in all sorts of ways - simultaneously! Instead of trying that, and not succeeding, perhaps we can focus on one thing this Lent. Let’s listen for the nudges of the Holy Spirit and see what one thing God might be calling us to address this Lent. It might be:
- spending more time hanging out with God, and falling in love with God again!
- working to be reconciled with a family member or a former friend.
- taking a courageous look at yourself, seeing one thing that you would like to improve, and striving to address that one thing, with God’s help (and maybe with the help of someone that you really trust, too).
- trying one thing that pulls you out of your comfort zone, but which you hear God asking you to try.
How might you love God? Or... how might you love another person? Or... how might you love and be gracious to yourself? Yes, what one choice could you make this Lent - something that may indeed require 40 days of prayer and/or 40 days of beginning a new habit - so that, come April 1 (Easter Sunday), both you and God will have another thing to celebrate?