A Lenten Meditation


“Here is the way I want you to fast.

Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
    Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
    Break every evil chain.”
(Isaiah 58:6)

For Lent this year I am not giving up coffee or facebook or ice cream.

I’m not fasting from any set thing at all.

This year, I want to learn to live more fully into the prophetic vision found in Isaiah 58.

“Show me how I can break the chains”

Some things may have to be given up.

Some things may have to be added.

Many things must change.

 

Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
    Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
    Break every evil chain.”

 

What chains are we holding on to?

I think every day about the 27 million slaves that exist in the world right now.

Every. Single. Day.

They meet me in Target.  They follow me around the mall.  They sit next to my daughter in the grocery cart.

How much of a stretch is it to think of myself as a slave owner when it is my dollars line the pockets of the oppressors?

Are my actions perpetuating the system which says to these souls “your life does not count”?

We cannot just look the other way.  To look away is to join the oppressor.

To look, to truly see and then to reach out and touch is the way of Christ.

 

 

“Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
    Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
    Break every evil chain.”

 

 

But what other chains might we hold?

Unconventional chains.  Unpopular chains.  Chains we would rather just ignore.

Unforgiveness?

Prejudice?

Hate?

 

 

“Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.”

 

 

Unforgiveness binds our hearts and forbids the gracious image of God be manifest in our lives.

Love is of God.

God is love.

The followers of God must be marked

by love,

by grace,

by forgiveness.

If someone slaps your right cheek, offer them your left.

If you are asked for shirt, give them your coat as well.

Is this your reputation?

Or are we a resentful people?

Is our worth found in being right or in being made right?

Relationship restored. World put back together.

Sometimes I wonder if the attribute of God the world needs most to see is not that God is holy or just or omniscient…

Perhaps the world needs to see grace.

Grace in all its insanity and splendor.

Forgiveness in its most radical and nonsensical form.

 

 

“Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.”

 

 

Whose dignity are you stealing?

Who is sub-human in your eyes?

Who is the brunt of your joke?  The person you shift your eyes away from?

Is it their class?  Their race?  Their home or lack thereof?

Hate and prejudice are chains that bind both the perpetrator and the victim.

It is only in loving and forgiving that we can set free those we hate and in doing so find freedom ourselves.

 

 

“Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.”

 

 

Who are you holding in chains?

Whose ropes have you tied?

Who are you crushing?

 

 

“Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.”

 

 

How are you wrapping chains around your heart?

How are you allowing those evil ties that bind to stay taught within your soul?

You, who have been set free and free indeed.

How have you chosen instead a chain?

 

 

Here is the way I want you to fast.

Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.”

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