Wednesday, 1 March 2017

What kind of fast?

Isaiah 58:6-7
"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.

Smudging our foreheads with ash
Fasting from whatever normally consumes us
- be it technology, food or drink
Focussing on our intentions
to give thanks
or to de-clutter
or to be more intentional in our living 
may be good reminders
of the season 
or of our intention to make space for God
in our all too busy lives...
But it's not enough 
It's not enough when there are beggars in our High Streets 
It's not enough when those who serve our country (any country)
are homeless 
or unemployed
It's not enough
when we turn our back
on those exiled
forced to flee from their homes
and their lands 
because of war
or persecution
or genocide.
It's not enough
when we'd rather funds arms
or oil
than clean water
or health care
or education.
Unless each grain of ash
symbolises our commitment
to embrace repentance
to seek forgiveness
and to work on restoration
of justice for all...
Unless each smudge 
signals our whole hearted desire
to embrace the other - 
Those in our midst
and those far off
Unless we are prepared
to wear our love
as visibly as the ash
by which we show our privilege
of birth,
Unless we feed the hungry
and clothe the naked
and shelter the homeless
and welcome the stranger
God is not served
and the kingdom is not built 
and our fasting is in vain.
May the ashes we don
be a symbol of intent
followed up by action
that ushers in
the reign of God.

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