The Lonely Road

The LONELY ROAD

False and True Worship- NRSV Isa. 58

Shout out, do not hold back!
    Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
    and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
    they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
    Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
    and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
    will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
    and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator[a] shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 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.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to live in.

13 If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
    from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;[b]
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

———————————

    I was an associate pastor in my first parish, after seminary, in a large church in St. Louis. My youth group was primarily Black and Hispanic.  One night we traveled downtown to hang out around the Arch. It was dark. I walked around for a few minutes alone and returned and the police had them lined up until I came forward;  Several years ago I was in another town, not far from San Francisco, around midnight with four Hispanic friends. At MacDonald’s the police pulled us over, questioned us for an hour, making sure none of my friends were undocumented or using their vulgar words “illegal”, all were citizens; Late one night in another county I left a friend’s house at midnight, and my Hispanic friend was pulling his school books out of the car before I headed home, six cars of police swarmed my van. They stated there had been robberies in the neighborhood and the van looked suspicious, as well as my friend and I. I let them search the van from top to bottom, and stood by a police car, and finding nothing they simply drove away. In all three incidents, racism is apparent, we can not hide from that fact.

    I dare to say if my friends had been white, we would not have been noticed.

    We need to look within ourselves and see racism in our acts, I mean all of us black, brown, white, red blue, whatever color for there is racism in all of us. We need to work at rooting out racism from every core of our being.

    Ramadan began yesterday and will end on May 12. Ramadan is a sacred season of looking inward, at our wrongs and bring forth what our lives can do. Dorthy Day reflected: “Love is a harsh and dreadful thing: because it demands so much both of us givers and receivers,” and Isaiah 58 is asking the question “Have we abdicated this practice of love in looking at our inner self, and to address what is going on in our family, community and the world.?”

    Fasting is for us to enter into ourselves, in order to come out for justice. Fasting calls us to self-denial, to sacrifice our own physical needs in order to focus and look at our lives. Food dominates our lives, I have seen people murdered for food, leaving food behind, let’s us see our inner needs, and the needs of others.

    Jesus sets the example for us in his forty days of fasting which were a time of reflection and decision and how he was going to embody his next steps, looking at his ego, ambitions, and clarifying his call.

     A gentleman walk with me last night and asked the question: “How can we solve homelessness?” My answer is to fast, to look within ourselves, and to see the need for the transformation of society, for each of us to witness to the incoming kingdom through our actions. Isaiah. Jesus, and Mohammed, tell us the solution for each of us to is practice mercy, to feed the homeless, to clothe the naked, to bury the dead, to comfort those who are in pain, to afflict the comfortable.

    It is a long and lonely road to walk outside our comfortable sanctuary and embody the Gospel fully. We are called to be counter-cultural.

    I practice the fasting of Ramadan, meet on zoom in community with six Muslim friends where we share both words from both our sacred books together, and talk of how we are going to witness more in the community.

    Fasting roots us in the One to whom we belong and calls us together in the inner connected body of Christ: Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

—————————-

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

——————–

Let us take our Bibles and read Isiah 58, Matthew 25:31-46, and reflect upon each word, and ask ourselves how are we living out those words in our lives.

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