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?
7 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?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly (Isaiah 58:6-8)
What are you giving up for Lent? This is a common question. For centuries, Lent has been associated with fasting, giving something up as a sign of repentance and turning back to God.
We normally think of fasting as refraining from eating or drinking. It might mean giving up coffee and chocolate (God forbid) or alcohol or fatty foods or TV or Facebook or cell phones … or our over packed schedules. These are all things we likely need to cut down on anyway.
Giving up something for Lent doesn’t make us more pure, nor does it make God like us better. God already delights in us! Jesus wants you as his partner in his life-giving mission in the world.
But fasting is still a good spiritual practice, and the prophet Isaiah tells us what we really need to let go if we are to know God’s light and love shining on us … and in us, bringing the joy of God’s presence to our hearts and lives.
So let go of the things you cling to make you feel safe and secure and comfortable. Let go of the things that make you forget your need of God.
Let go … of your bread and wealth to share with the poor.
Let go … of luxuries that the needy might be clothed.
Let go … of the politics of personal advantage and seek what is good for others.
Let go … of your blindness and see the injustice suffered by the homeless, the refugee, the immigrant and those denied privileges you take for granted.
Let go … of evil speech and eager judgment of others. The people who trouble you are fighting battles within you neither know nor understand.
Let go … of the compulsion to blame others.
Let go of satisfaction with the way the world is. Christ asks you to long and labor for a better world.
Let go of everything that is not mercy … and anything that doesn’t do God’s justice.
Lent is about letting go attitudes and commitments, opinions and behaviors that separate our hearts from knowing God’s great love flowing from our depths … as a fountain of life for others.
Pr. David L. Miller