Isaiah 58:1-12(NRSV)

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.

2 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.
3 “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.

4 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.
5 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?
6 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; your vindicator a 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.

9 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,
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NRSV)

6 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?

DEVOTION – Edward L. Kelly, Jr. (Iowa)

I have always though of Lent as a time of fasting in the sense of “giving up” something, either a lunch or some daily treat such as candy or coffee.  The customary question in my faith community is, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  I had never thought about doing anything else as a Lenten practice until one morning when I read the passage from Isaiah, then later that same morning encountered a divine example of that passage.

While I was driving to work I noticed a drably dressed, bearded man standing at a busy intersection.   He had a sign that read:  “Homeless Veteran, need help!”  Instantly, I recalled the words of Isaiah about what kind of fast God desires “to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.”  I gave what help I could to that man.

My Lenten practice changed that very day.  Now during Lent, my practice is not to give up something but to give something to someone in need.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When we fasr, God helps us to identify with – and reach out to – those in need.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us during this Lenten season to look beyond ourselves and give us those in need.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THE HOMELESS IN MY COMMUNITY

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