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 to bring to homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide ourself from your own kin?
Isaiah 58.6-8 (NRSV)
That’s the reading I’ve heard every night at Compline, all through Lent, for the last 16 years at least. It never fails to remind me Lent isn’t a cosy matter of me and God, me and my spiritual journey. It’s the chaotic messiness of God, all his people, and my place in that.
Reminding me to be cheerful when I’d rather not be, reminding me not to resent all the interruptions to my nicely organised routines. It’s seeing that of God in those I find it difficult to.
It’s about reminding me that mystery of our relationship with God cannot be isolated from the complexities of the relationship with all those with whom we come into contact. Those we know and love, and those we don’t.
It also reminds me there are times when I’m the poor, the hungry, the naked and there are times when I need to let others, who take these verses as seriously as I hope I try to, help me in my need.