(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached about on a previous Sunday.)
“What are you giving up for Lent?”
It’s a pretty common question. Lent is, after all, a time in which we commemorate Jesus’ forty day fast in the wilderness. Thus our commemoration usually includes giving up something.
But Lent (and fasting in general) ought to be about more than just giving up something. Isaiah 58:6-7 puts it very well:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
The bottom line is that there is another side to the give up Lenten coin. Giving up something frees up resources. Those resources can take the form of money, time, energy, or some combination of them. So, once you’ve given up something, thereby freeing up something, then take the next step and give to something.
It’s been hundreds of years since Isaiah was written but the causes he specifically mentions are still a good place to start: loosing the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, sharing food with the hungry, providing the poor wanderer with shelter, etc.
What are you giving to for Lent?