A Way Other Than Our Own … pages 30 and 31
Susie and the deacons are reading a thought-provoking book together for Lent – Walter Brueggemann’s “A Way Other Than Our Own.” Get your hands on a copy of it (link above), this year or next! Here’s today’s reading, for the Third Wednesday of Lent, to entice you:
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Lent is the time for cold, sober reflection on that which our faith knows that we have mostly forgotten. The God of the Bible so wants human community to work, right here. But the God of the Bible also tells us what it costs for community to work. What it costs is a harsh criticism of the terrible advantage some have over others. God is indeed “pro-life,” for the poor, for the hungry, for the homeless, for the naked. When these become the center of policy, the city becomes both pro-God and pro-life.
Isaiah’s poem concludes with these poignant words:
“Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help and he will say, Here I am. (Isaiah 58: 8-9)
“Then,” when you have done true religion, light will come. Healing will surge. There will be a healing of fear and hate and brutality. “Then” your righteousness will be established. You will soar in success and safety, in splendor and well-being. Then, and not before. Then, and not without this costly caring.
Then you will cry out and God will answer. God will be with you, full of promise, genuine community, right blessing, a safe people. The condition of such blessing and presence, however, is the condition of justice for all those too weak to have it on their own.
The promise of God is for here and for now and for you. That promise, however, allows no short-cut, no light for the city without the fast of genuine humanness. The fast of humanness is the condition of Easter, when all God’s children in this place come to new life. Imagine, entrusted to people like us – entrusted with true religion, invited to true economics, destined for true community – is a new city, brilliant in its light, powerful in its common faith, beloved in its shared humanity. The light is promised to us. The fast is required of us.
(Prayer: Save us, Lord, from a religion that ignores the cries of the exploited and oppressed. Lead us into a deeper faith that challenges injustice and makes the sacrifices that must be made to build a society that is ever more truly human. Amen.)