Abundant Table Farm Church
March 1, 2017
Ash Wednesday Reflection
By Lisa Devine
The Ash Wednesday reading from Isaiah is so beautiful, isn’t it?
“The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:9)
I confess I am feeling quite parched myself lately, dried up and depleted from all of life’s demands and REALLY needing that unfailing water to replenish me.
During Lent we as individual Christians and as the Body of Christ —consider our spiritual well-being. How are we living the gospel in our lives and communities? What areas of growth should we celebrate with gratitude and joy? In what ways have we fallen short, grown stagnant or cold-hearted, or failed to love? These are the kinds of questions Lent asks of us.
In Isaiah, we also hear about fasting, an ancient ritual that was used as a means to humble oneself before the Lord in times of distress. But this passage spells out the means by which a person should practice genuine fasting…a call “to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke (Isaiah 58:6).” More specifically, we are urged to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, clothe the naked and “not hide yourself from your own kin (58:7).”
There are many modern interpretations and applications of each of these commands, depending on the context, but even the ancient language is relevant today. Quite simply, we are called to justice for all and love without bounds.
Of course, in our work here at The Abundant Table, we emphasize our profound connection to the Earth: the land beneath us and around us. Not as a separate entity apart from us or as something to simply respect or care for…But as part of who we are and the life force we draw from that feeds and sustains us in so many ways.
Just yesterday, I was sharing with Julie Morris how depleted I was feeling going into Lent and how drained of ANY and all life force I feel. She shared with me a quote by Brian Taylor who says: “In our true nature we are Earthy, Real, Dirty. And so to repent is to come back to earth, to leave our delusions of self perfection behind, be who and where we are this day naked before God.”
Delusions of self-perfection. Oh my yes, I can see myself in that.
And what a wonderfully scandalous statement—naked before God!
Each day, I read the news about the impact of the mandates and ideology of our current presidential administration. I see fear in the eyes around me and feel anger pulsing through the veins of this country.
As I feel souls grow weary and see evidence everywhere of a planet hurting on so many levels, I am reminded of JUST how vulnerable we are. Not vulnerable as a weakness, but vulnerable as a courageous confession that we need God desperately with every breath we take. Indeed, naked before God.
This vulnerability is actually at the heart of the Lenten journey, because ultimately we are journeying toward the cross, where we are met by a vulnerable AND redeeming God in the person of Jesus, inescapably linked to the One who created us and who loves us beyond the beyond.
Folks tend to enter into the humble and rather inward journey of Lent from all sorts of physical and spiritual places. Some might “give something up” while others might “take something on.” However it looks, may we be courageous in our vulnerability. Our earthy, real, and dirty vulnerability…waiting for those life-giving waters which are promised to us.
As we heard in Isaiah:
“Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and God will say, Here I am.”