Friday 16 February 2024

Today is Friday the 16th of February, in the season of Lent.

Bifrost Arts sing ‘O God Will You Restore Us?’.

O God, will You restore us
And grant us Your salvation?
O God, will You restore us
And grant us Your salvation?
I will hear what God proclaims
The Lord our God proclaims peace
Kindness and truth shall meet
Justice and peace shall kiss
O God, will You restore us
And grant us Your salvation?
Here is the fast that I choose
To loosen the bonds of the oppressed and break their chains
Let righteousness and justice go out before you
Then You will call out and I will hear
O God, will You restore us
And grant us Your salvation?
Near indeed is His salvation to those who call on Him
He will incline His ear and hear their prayers
Truth shall spring out of the earth
And justice will rain down from heaven
O God, will You restore us
And grant us Your salvation?
The Lord will guide you on a righteous path
His vindication will shine down forth as the dawn
Your people will be called repairers of broken walls
Making straight the path to proclaim His reign
O God, will You restore us
And grant us Your salvation?
O God, will You restore us?
Please grant us Your salvation

Today’s reading is from the Prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 58: 1-9

Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were
a nation that practised righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgements, they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?’
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day, and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

The prophet Isaiah points out the difference between religious observance and true change of heart. Jesus does the same in his parable of the sheep and the goats at the final judgement. He urges us to do justice and to live compassion before anything else. How do his words strike you?

Isaiah’s God doesn’t only tell us how to practise true religion. He promises that this will bring us healing in our own turn. Are you aware of anything in you that needs healing this Lent? What help are you crying to God for?

This long passage holds both admonition and promise, challenge and consolation. God promises to be with us in our need as we are with others in their need. How do you respond to this promise?

As you make God’s words your own, allow yourself to speak to God from your heart, expressing your thoughts and feelings, and asking for whatever you need at this time.

You have given all to me
To you Lord, I return it
Everything is Yours
Do with it what you will
Give me only your love and your grace
That, is enough for me.

Friday, 16 February
0th week of Lent
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