A particular verse of scripture has been haunting me lately. I hear it as an indictment of an aspect of my personal life. First, it was a lectionary text in Epiphany. Then I found it in the unifying passage of a devotional book I read. “Bring the homeless poor into your house,” we read in Isaiah 58:7, part of a passage on genuine fasting.
Lent | Ash Wednesday (Year A Year B Year C)
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12 (Psalm 51:1-17); 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
I try not to get too worked up about the commercialization of church holidays. It seems inevitable in our culture, in which most people are at least nominally Christian yet the real national faith is capitalism. The Christmas shopping season is annoying and the Easter candy aisles are dangerous, but it seems futile to rail against things that are more symptom than illness. It is pretty perplexing, however, when marketers try to capitalize on Lent.
We began our business meeting in the chapel with dimmed lights. I led the board through several calming prayers, noticing our breath and heartbeats.
Most of us do not take criticism well. We get defensive, make excuses, or blame others. Nor do we engage in much self reflection or acknowledgement of our personal failings. A lot of churches have deleted the prayer of confession from their Sunday morning orders of worship because of complaints that “those prayers are too depressing,” or “those things don’t apply to me.”