February 28

Isaiah 58:1-12

“If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” vss. 9b-10

For centuries the church has prepared for the season of Lent by indulging in one last festival of excess. Believers have reasoned that it’s the last chance for them to eat, drink, and be merry before their season of deprivation and fasting. Folks spend months getting ready for Mardi Gras in places like New Orleans or Rio and the resulting celebrations are a frenzy of exhibitionism and orgiastic delight. It’s interesting to note that, as these festivals have increased in popularity, authentic Lenten observations have virtually faded from sight. Very few people even make a pretense of taking Lent seriously–fasting is rare and seldom are there attempts at mastering any spiritual discipline. But some folks do care–and this Wednesday they’ll be in their congregations to receive the mark of the ashes and remember their baptisms. A few will hear the words of Isaiah and take them to heart. They may even resolve to use the season for reaching out to the hungry and the needy in some new and inventive ways. They understand that this season of reflection can be a time for spiritual growth and renewal–and their light will certainly rise in the darkness!

Thought for the Day: How am I getting ready for Lent?

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