Sat, March 4th

By: Chad Hyatt

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Reflection—v. 17, when you fast…

What is fasting, and how is it a practice of justice? Throughout history, people have fasted in the face of calamity and injustice. Why? Because fasting is essentially an act of protest, taking a case of injustice or tragedy to the highest possible court of appeals: God. Through fasting we are voluntarily taking on ourselves the suffering of our community by denying ourselves both comfort, such as good dress, and that which is essential to a thriving life, such as food. It is a way of saying we choose to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering, calling on the God of justice and mercy to stand with us and to save us. Fasting is a powerful practice of justice. But not if it is co-opted by the powers-that-be so that it becomes no more than a pious ritual by which we show we are culturally acceptable—that we are among the good and the noble, patting ourselves on the back for our righteousness. As Christians, fasting means not only are we entering into the suffering of our sisters and brothers to stand with them in the demand for justice, but that we are also entering into the sufferings of Christ with and for us. The life and death of Christ is the ultimate act of solidarity with those who suffer and are victimized by injustice—the ultimate act of protest against a culture of death and the values of domination. By the resurrection, God demonstrates our cries have been heard and answered with vindicating justice.

Prayer God, in our fasting, we join with all who suffer and with Jesus who died for us.

Second Thursday of Advent

Mark 1:1-8

Reflection—v.5, ‘…confessing their sins…’

I think confessing our sins is more difficult than we really give it credit.  Can we really keep track of all the ways we offend God?  You might even wonder why God seems to offend so easily, anyway.  In the church where I grew up, typical of Presbyterians, we read a pre-scripted confession together, followed by fifteen seconds or so for personal, silent confession.  Don’t get me wrong: I love so much of the sign and symbol of this act.  But I also wonder if we have allowed ourselves enough space to really get to the heart of the matter.  Confessing something to myself is hard enough; I might have been thinking for a couple of months that it was time to make a change.  But saying it out loud brings tears to my eyes.  Real confession takes hard, gutsy work–requiring us to go inward and examine our hearts. Despite its difficulties, confession really does do us good.

Prayer

Oh, Lord, hear my confession–in the silence of my heart and before my sisters and brothers, even before those whom I have wronged.  Guide me into the depths of my heart, where I fear to tread but might, if led by your love.

-Maggie Leonard