In the wake of another mass shooting in a high school yesterday where all reports were of a system that was prepared for such an incident, it seems futile to talk about all the security measures that were in place. How was a single gunman able to kill 17 people? Will we ever be able to stop such things from happening by shoring up our defenses? Are we not called for something more transformative? Isaiah thinks so.
Some of us are still entering Lent with hopes of transformation resulting from the simple disciplines like giving up our favorite foods or fasting from criticism of our co-workers (not a bad start!). How do we react to this morning’s challenge of Isaiah who asks: “Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” When is the last time we participated in an effort to “set free the oppressed?” We’re pretty good at sharing our bread with the hungry but how many times do we open our homes to the oppressed and the homeless? That could be pretty dangerous, right?
We tend to make excuses about the impossibility of interpreting the Scriptures literally. Culture has changed so much…life is so different now, and, to be honest, those claims have some validity. Can we find ways, though, to practice such large-heartedness in the culture that is ours now?
Here is the line that is closest to my heart. I hear so often about families whose members don’t even speak to one another. Isaiah finishes his litany of how we ought to work toward transformation with the call of not turning your back on your own. How might I, who have been blessed with a nuclear and extended family that are bound together by care and history of connection, find a way to interpret that dictum of Isaiah as part of Lenten practice? Believing that we are all brothers and sisters, perhaps my task is to examine the wider sphere of my relationships and work to repair any rift or misunderstanding that I can find, even if it has been long buried. Perhaps in working toward this kind of reconciliation, I might join in the necessary effort toward forgiveness that hangs heavy on our hearts today.