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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, February 14, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 58:1–9a

Shout out, do not hold back!
   Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
   to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
   and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
   and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
   they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
   Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
   and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
   and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
   will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
   a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
   and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
   a day acceptable to the Lord?

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?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
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. (NRSV).

In today’s reading, Isaiah is giving the people of Jerusalem a reminder about what faith and worship truly is. They were going through the motions, following rituals, acting pious, but overall living for themselves, not for God.

It can be easy to fall into a rut in our faith. It happens to me far too often. We go to church on Sundays, participate in worship, take Communion, attend a Sunday school class, and then when Monday comes, we are busy and focused on ourselves again. God doesn’t want us to be Sunday-morning Christians. God wants to be connected with us and want us to actively show God’s love to others all of the time.

Isaiah provides us with concrete examples of what we should be doing: we need to show compassion for the oppressed, the poor, and the helpless. God wants us to shift the focus from ourselves to others, which can be difficult sometimes, but we are called to do just that. We are fortunate here at Fourth Church to have several opportunities to show compassion to those in need. There is a very busy Meals Ministry, where we can volunteer to cook for and to serve our hungry neighbors. The Elam Davies Social Service Center helps so many people every week and offers a variety of ways to donate and volunteer. Chicago Lights Tutoring gives us a chance to help students be successful in school. I challenge all of us (myself included!) to find a place to serve and show God’s love to others.

Loving God, I too often get stuck in a rut in my faith and fail to truly worship you. Help me to shift the focus from myself to my brothers and sisters who are in need. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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