Isaiah 64:5 speaks to God, saying, “You were angry when we sinned; you hid yourself when we did wrong” (Common English Bible). It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of God’s anger. In my own faith, the most helpful idea here is that God is slow to anger. If we forget that God is slow to anger, then God is reduced to a cruel monster out to get us. If we forget anger altogether, then God is reduced to a puppy dog who wants to lick our face no matter what terrible things we continue to do. Both God-the-monster and God-the-puppy-dog are idols: images of God that don’t match what the Bible says.
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
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.
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.