14 day plan

The Poetry of Justice

Day 4 of 14


Isaiah 58:4

4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers?

Reflection:  Every time we try to impress others with our spiritual prowess, or act out of our own religious confidence, we nurture disaster. It’s not long before our ‘holy charade’ shatters and our sinful nature emerges: ugly, violent, wicked fists strike at anyone who gets in our way, as verse 4 suggests.  No wonder many who don’t yet believe in Christ shy away from the Gospel: the fighting and quarrelling within the church do more damage than we can imagine. And no wonder Isaiah chastises: ‘you cannot act like this and expect God to hear you.’ Even
our best efforts can hurt others, especially if our reputation keeps us from examining our hearts. The call to justice, then, always means laying down our power and opening our hands to learn and serve from a posture of humility—just as Christ, though in the form of God, emptied himself and became a servant for us.

Question: In what creative or inviting ways could your church serve your community from a posture of humility?

Prayer:  Help us, O God, to open our hands and give away our power. Help us, O God, to
reflect the life of Jesus Christ in all we do, who served and died and rose again that the voices of others may be heard on high. Amen.

Isaiah 58:1-14

True Fasting

1The Lord says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshiping me.”

3The people ask, “Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?”

The Lord says to them, “The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that?

6“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 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.

8“Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.

“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. 12Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”

The Reward for Keeping the Sabbath

13The Lord says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honor it by not traveling, working, or talking idly on that day, 14then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honored all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken.”