The western branch of Christianity observed Ash Wednesday today, the beginning of the season of Lent, a 40-day liturgical period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Do I dare to move the heart of God?
The prophet Isaiah had something to say about the practice of fasting. I believe many priests and pastors have shared this passage recently.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (Isaiah 58:6-9, New International Version)
I share this because there was a revelation received by Marshall Vian Summers in 2009 which has a portion which vibrates very sympathetically with the words of Isaiah. The entire revelation is called “The New God.” Here is the portion I recalled.
“The beliefs and fascinations, obsessions and fantasies of humanity are not what move God. It is the deeper movement of the heart and the conscience. It is the act of selfless giving. It is the act of forgiveness and the desire to contribute beyond one’s own personal needs and preferences. It is the recognition of one to another. It is an enemy becoming a friend. It is the healing of the natural world that has been despoiled. These are the things that move the Lord of the universe.”
I believe the Christians who are observing Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent sincerely desire to pray and fast and give alms in such a way that their voices are heard on high. But the prophet declared that God has a desire for more than ceremonial observance. God is being forthright in saying what he wants. Do I dare to give it to him? Do I dare to loose the chains of injustice? Do I dare to give selflessly? Do I dare to share my food with the hungry? Do I dare to destroy my enemy by making him my friend? Do I dare to hope for what God promises if I do these things? Do I dare to move the heart of God?
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