Faith Column: An encouragement for Lent
Lent is a season that many people try to avoid. They find it too sad and too somber. It has also been associated with giving up things, like chocolate or soda. Some of people have suggested that we need to rethink Lent. As we look at the Prophets of Hebrew Scripture, we find that the message is an old one. Isaiah said: “The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives (Isaiah 58:6-7 GNT).”
Micha wrote: “The Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God (Micah 6:8, GNT).”
If we take these passages at their word, we need to consider what is an acceptable fast. As far as I can tell, it is not to give up chocolate (good thing for this chocoholic) but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
So, for this Lent I encourage you to take up some new habit. Here are some suggestions:
- One person I know you will write thank you cards to people, or you will try to say hello to someone with a smile on your face.
- Another person is posting quotes of courage and peace on her Facebook page.
- Once a week another is going through drive thru and paying for the person behind him.
- Still another is writing one letter to a representative at the state or national level each day for these forty days asking them to support one program that helps the poor and hungry.
- Another is going through their closet each day for forty days and putting aside something they no longer need. On the Monday following Easter, they will take the bag of forty items to their local domestic violence shelter.
- One youth group is going to their local laundromat each week and giving away free quarters and laundry soap to anyone in need and helping them fold their laundry that day.
Jesus himself declared the acceptable year of God’s favor with acts of healing and mercy. What can you do?
Rev. Deana Armstrong is the Pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Craig, Colorado.
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