Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
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[a] 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.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent are here. When we repent, it is to turn toward God with full understanding and openness to change. We look at our whole lives and it can feel quite uncomfortable. It is for me. It is hard knowing I am part of systems that oppress people, hurt people. I succumb to ways of the culture and support the majority. So perhaps, on this Ash Wednesday, I will simply confess who I am to God. I will acknowledge, make clear in words to God (and to myself) who I see reflected in the glass.
These words from Isaiah opened my eyes to who I am and who we are as a people, the human race. We want God to hear us, to see us, to walk with us, to answer our prayers; and yet, we are (and I am) content to “fast only to quarrel and to fight.” This scripture helps me to confess, to repent and believe the gospel, to walk in life in a new way. It brings up questions about me to me and helps me to redirect myself.
The season of Lent can be a bit dark and quite difficult. The pandemic season has made this rainy winter dark for me in the recent weeks. So, it helps to remember this: when I am not perfect, when I am not doing things well, even spiritual disciplines, I am loved. God, who is love, made me and made you. We are created in the image of God. Therefore, we look like love, we are loved. How well we “do” at things does not change this. Breathe in “I look like love.” Breathe out: “Thank you, Creator God.” (thanks for this, Lisa Yebuah)
The last part of this Isaiah passage says, “The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your needs in parched places and will make your bones strong and you shall be like a watered garden.” As beloved children of God, rely on God during this Lenten season. Repent. Believe in the gospel. And be open to the water God is offering in your parched places, Friends. “You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.”
May the peace of Christ be with you.
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Tara, follow this link: https://harbordistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/