Great Plains Daily Devotional for 2/26/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Kalaba Chali
Mercy & Justice Ministries
Wichita East District
Todd Seifert
Director, Communications
Topeka District
David Burke
Content Specialist - Stories & GP Connect
Topeka District
Eugenio Hernandez Rodriguez
Multimedia Production Specialist - Video
Topeka District

Today's Lectionary Text

Isaiah 58:1-12 (CEB)

58 Shout loudly; don’t hold back;
    raise your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their crime,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
    desiring knowledge of my ways
    like a nation that acted righteously,
    that didn’t abandon their God.
They ask me for righteous judgments,
    wanting to be close to God.
“Why do we fast and you don’t see;
    why afflict ourselves and you don’t notice?”
Yet on your fast day you do whatever you want,
    and oppress all your workers.
You quarrel and brawl, and then you fast;
    you hit each other violently with your fists.
You shouldn’t fast as you are doing today
    if you want to make your voice heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I choose,
    a day of self-affliction,
    of bending one’s head like a reed
    and of lying down in mourning clothing and ashes?
    Is this what you call a fast,
        a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isn’t this the fast I choose:
    releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
    setting free the mistreated,
    and breaking every yoke?
Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry
    and bringing the homeless poor into your house,
    covering the naked when you see them,
    and not hiding from your own family?
Then your light will break out like the dawn,
    and you will be healed quickly.
Your own righteousness will walk before you,
    and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and God will say, “I’m here.”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the finger-pointing, the wicked speech;
10     if you open your heart to the hungry,
    and provide abundantly for those who are afflicted,
    your light will shine in the darkness,
    and your gloom will be like the noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually
    and provide for you, even in parched places.
    He will rescue your bones.
You will be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water that won’t run dry.
12 They will rebuild ancient ruins on your account;
    the foundations of generations past you will restore.
You will be called Mender of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Livable Streets.

Today's Devotional

Isaiah’s text feels convicting.  

I mean, how appropriate that the first text of the Lenten season, a season widely associated with fasting, should chastise us for attending to the wrong kind of fast. Lent is a season where pastors and churches kick into overdrive, where we have extra weekly services, and sometimes daily prayer services. It is a season that includes Holy Week where we can practically live at church for seven days if we are not careful. And the first text of this jam-packed season lifts up a people thinking they are doing right while actually forsaking the ordinances of God.  

Now, I believe the Holy Spirit moves powerfully during many of those extra services and I do not think God is calling us to throw Good Friday, Maundy Thursday and Palm Sunday out the window. But I do believe God calls us to a balance of personal and social holiness. I hear the Holy Spirit ask us through the text, During this season of Lent, if you are not loving your neighbor with intention and if you are not helping loosen bonds of injustice, then from what do you need to fast to make those things a priority? And that question feels extra convicting because I have spent hours planning my Lenten sermon series, discerning a new Ash Wednesday service, and crafting a Lenten Commitment Card for spiritual disciplines, but I have not intentionally thought about how I will participate in and support God’s liberating movement in my town, my state, and our conference.  

So today, as we remember that we are but dust and to dust we shall return, may we know God calls us to use our time between dusts with intention. May reflecting on our own mortality help us to see this Lenten season with fresh eyes. May we read the text of Isaiah and adjust our calendar or do something differently. And may we know God walks with us through it all. 

-- Pastor Stefanie Hayes 
Ord First and Sargent First UMCs, Nebraska

shayes@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

Dear God, never let us forget that you walk with us, and you are there to help us live our lives with intention. Amen.

 

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