Lent, Day 1: Ash Wednesday

Isaiah 58:1-12

Common English Bible (CEB)

Isaiah 58

Fasting from injustice

 1 Shout loudly; don’t hold back;
   raise your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their crime,
   to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 They seek me day after day,
   desiring knowledge of my ways
   like a nation that acted righteously,
   that didn’t abandon their God.
They ask me for righteous judgments,
   wanting to be close to God.
3 “Why do we fast and you don’t see;
   why afflict ourselves
   and you don’t notice?”
Yet on your fast day
you do whatever you want,
   and oppress all your workers.
4 You quarrel and brawl, and then you fast;
   you hit each other violently
   with your fists.
You shouldn’t fast as you are doing today
   if you want to make
   your voice heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I choose,
   a day of self-affliction,
   of bending one’s head like a reed
   and of lying down
   in mourning clothing and ashes?
   Is this what you call a fast,
      a day acceptable to the LORD?

 6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
   releasing wicked restraints,
   untying the ropes of a yoke,
   setting free the mistreated,
   and breaking every yoke?
7 Isn’t it sharing your bread
with the hungry
   and bringing the homeless poor
   into your house,
   covering the naked when you see them,
   and not hiding from your own family?
8 Then your light
will break out like the dawn,
   and you will be healed quickly.
Your own righteousness
will walk before you,
   and the LORD’s glory
   will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call,
and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help,
   and God will say, “I’m here.”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
   the finger-pointing, the wicked speech;
 10 if you open your heart to the hungry,
   and provide abundantly
   for those who are afflicted,
   your light will shine in the darkness,
   and your gloom will be like the noon.
11 The LORD will guide you continually
   and provide for you,
   even in parched places.
   He will rescue your bones.
You will be like a watered garden,
   like a spring of water
   that won’t run dry.
12 They will rebuild ancient ruins
on your account;
   the foundations of generations past
   you will restore.
You will be called
Mender of Broken Walls,
   Restorer of Livable Streets.

I’m trying something new this Lent. Every day until Easter, I’m going to try and blog once every day on something from scripture. Expressing outwardly my journey in following Christ to the cross won’t be easy, but that’s kind of the point, now isn’t it? Lent is a time to return to God, to repent, and make God the center of our lives, not ourselves. Ash Wednesday is a time to remember we are fragile, we are mortal, and one day we will die. With that in mind, it makes sense as Christians to orient ourselves to the eternal. 

Out of that reorientation, though, Isaiah calls us to repent not only from excess, but from spiritual blindness to those in need around us. I love verse 9 and 10 in this passage, because it boils down the essence of a missional theology: provide abundantly, open your heart, and God will shine through. I may not have much, but I have far more than most of the world. I want to be more prayerful, more giving, and less selfish, because that is what I feel Christ calling me to be. In being more prayerful and meditative upon the word, and sharing this experience, my hope is to re-orient myself, to return to God. I hope you all will join with me on a journey of repentance; if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we’re all in this together. Faith doesn’t exist in a vacuum. God loves not just me, but us, and I have to learn to love others if I’m going to take that seriously. I want to be a mender of broken walls, and a restorer of livable streets, but the only way I’m going to be able to do that is to recognize and live into the Spirit. So I will join my brothers and sisters in our journey to Easter, to resurrection, in hope that my faith and my hope will too be resurrected through Christ.

–The Nerdcore Theologian.

About grantimusmax

Grant Barnes, aka Grantimus Maximus, aka The Nerdcore Theologian. Currently, he is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, California. He is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology with a Masters Degree in Divinity. He graduated from Texas State University Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in English, minor in History. He watches way too many movies, reads too many books, listens to too much music, and plays too many video games to ever join the mundane reality people claim is the "Real World." He rejects your reality, and replaces it with a vision of what could be, a better one, shaped by his love for God.
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