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Friday, 7 March 2014

Lent 2014 Reflections: Friday 7th March 2014

Friday after Ash Wednesday - 7th March

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:1-9

1 Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet. To my people proclaim their rebellious acts, to the House of Jacob, their sins.
2 They seek for me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that has acted uprightly and not forsaken the law of its God. They ask me for laws that are upright, they long to be near God:
3 'Why have we fasted, if you do not see, why mortify ourselves if you never notice?' Look, you seek your own pleasure on your fastdays and you exploit all your workmen;
4 look, the only purpose of your fasting is to quarrel and squabble and strike viciously with your fist.Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high.
5 Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a day when a person inflicts pain on himself? Hanging your head like a reed, spreading out sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to Yahweh?
6 Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me: to break unjust fetters, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break all yokes?
7 Is it not sharing your food with the hungry, and sheltering the homeless poor; if you see someone lacking clothes, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own kin?
8 Then your light will blaze out like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Saving justice will go ahead of you and Yahweh's glory come behind you.
9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he will say, 'I am here.' If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist and malicious words.

Reflection by Kim Lee:

In Lent, we are asked to do three things: Pray, Fast and Give Alms. These things are meant to bring us closer to God. If we pray more during Lent, but then go out and be really awful to people and upset them, then there is no point in praying. If we fast and put on a grumpy face and tell everyone how hungry we are and how we are not eating what we like, and then we go around being a glutton in other ways, then the hunger for God is not brought out, so there is no point in fasting. Same with giving alms, why would you give alms then go out and steal from someone else, for instance? 
The reason we are asked to pray, fast and give alms is because they are supposed to help us to change our hearts. The word used in Scripture is "metanoia" which means "beyond the mind". We have to stop thinking with our heads and start thinking with our hearts. We have to go beyond rationality and logic found in the mind to follow the Holy Spirit, to leave ourselves in the hands of the Lord and completely trust in Him. We see in Scripture that the words, "do not be afraid" appear 365 times - that's once for every day of the year. "Commit your life to the Lord, trust in Him, and he will act" - Psalm 37.

Lent Giving: Instead of thinking "What am I giving up for Lent?", think, "How can I give and serve this Lent?".

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