by Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons
Designated Conference Minister
Southwest Conference UCC
This year I’ve decided to make Lent a time of fast-living.
The Urban Dictionary’s definition of fast living (no hyphen) describes patterns of behaviors that “lack morals, … dangerous, reckless activity that endangers their own well-being and safety as well of others.” The season of Lent offers some of us an opportunity to interrupt our fast living and invites us to pursue more settled, healthy choices. That’s not the fast living I’m embracing or choosing to surrender this Lent.
For others of us Lent has become a season during which to reign in our overindulgences, or to abstain from a benign pleasure in favor of a more spiritual pursuit – no alcohol, no chocolate, no you-fill-in-the-blank, more prayer, more giving to the poor, more you-name-your-spiritual-
That’s not the kind of fast living I’m choosing either.
I’m choosing to make this Lent Isaiah’s kind of fast living. Nathan Nettleton’s translation from Isaiah 58 explains it best.
Listen to what God has to say about your sins: “Do you really think this is what I like to see:
……..a day of pious misery?
……..black clothes, long faces and crocodile tears?
……..giving up chocolate and ice cream?
Do you think that’s worship?
……..Do you think that pleases me?
…………….Give me a break!
“Do you want to know what I’d really like to see:
……..dismantle the structures of injustice;
……..take your feet of the throats of the poor;
……..stop jailing the victims of unfair laws;
……..and quit plundering nature’s resources.
“Do you want to know what else I’d like to see:
……..open your tables to the hungry;
……..open your hearts and your homes to the refugees;
……..open your wardrobes to those without clothes;
……..and don’t go hiding every time you see someone in need.
“Do that, and I’ll put your name up in lights!
……..Do that and our relationship will be healed in an instant!
I’ll put you under my personal protection;
……..anyone who attacks you will have to deal with me, the LORD!
I’ll be on hand to respond whenever you need me;
……..just say the word, and I’ll be there for you.
“If you abandon all forms of exploitation,
……..and avoid bad-mouthing others to gain an edge;
if you share what you have with those in need,
……..and respond to the real needs of suffering communities;
then you’ll find that the world will light up for you
……..and life will be one beautiful day after another.
“I, the LORD, will always be there to guide you;
……..even in the grip of drought,
……..I’ll keep you healthy and well fed.
You’ll be like an irrigated vineyard with it’s own deep bore,
……..green and lush and full of life!
“Your ruined houses will be renovated and new;
……..you’ll be able to restore the homes
…………….that have been in your families for generations.
You’ll get a reputation for making dreams possible,
……..for enabling everyone to find a good place to live.
Go ahead. Make Lent a time for fast living Isaiah-style. Just imagine the kind of new life we’ll be able to celebrate this Easter if we do!
God, help me – help us – find meaning in Isaiah’s kind of fast living these next 40 days. Amen.