Psalm for Lent — Duncan Wilson, UK

‘Shout as loud as you can’, says God.
‘Remind my people about their sins!
Every day they come to worship, eager for my ways,
wanting to follow my laws.
It gives them pleasure, so they say.

But then they complain, asking why they should fast
when it produces no favours, as though I am ignoring them.

So the Holy One says to them –

This is what I mean by genuine fasting.
Is it not to set people free from the shackles of injustice
and the weights upon their shoulders,
is it not to relieve them of their burdens
and destroy every form of oppression?
Is it not to share your bread with those who are starving
and to shelter the refugee under your roof?
And when you see a person shivering without clothes
to cover them as you would your own flesh and blood?

That’s the moment when light will dawn upon your life
and healing surely come.
That’s when your good deeds will pave the path before you
and God’s glory will light up your journey.
Then, should you call, God will answer
and if you need help, God will say, ‘Here I am!’

If you give up the bullying,
the pointing of fingers and malicious gossip,
and if you pay proper attention to people who are hungry
and make it in your way to lift up those who are downtrodden,
that’s when you will see light rise upon this darkened world
and everything become bright as the midday sun.

Then the Holy One will be your constant guide.
In the scorching desert, God will meet your every need and make you strong.
You will be like a fresh garden, a never-failing stream.
The rubble of ruins will be rebuilt, foundations underpinned,
so that people will call you ‘The mender of broken walls,
the restorer of homes and the foundation of community.’

Arising from Ash Wednesday’s reading from Isaiah 58. 1-12

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