Lent I – Repair the Breach

For Ash Wednesday:

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Olana – Matthew 6, Makoto Fujimura

Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps 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 him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness 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, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
12 And 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 dwell in.

~ Isaiah 58:5-12 (ESV)

Oh God,

Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let us be repairers of the breach, restorers of the streets. Let us risk all to feed, clothe, visit, harbor, save the least of these. Let us not take pride in our humility, nor offer up our good deeds to others for their praise. Let us be servants, workers in your kingdom. Now is the acceptable time! Come, Lord Jesus. Make all things new.

Amen.

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A Prayer of Praise

Inspired by my study of Isaiah 7:1-9:7 and my current struggles with pride and lack of trust.

If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all. ~ Isaiah 7:9b

The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,
and he will be a sanctuary… ~ Isaiah 8:13-14a

O God, I am ashamed of my fear and unbelief.

How can I be afraid?

You are with your people,
more now than ever before.

How can I lack faith?

Your promises are always kept,
and even my life shows it.

O God, thank you for your act of self-sacrifice.

How can I be proud?

Your saving work is yours alone;
Your call to me effectual and sure.

How can I be anxious?

You saved my soul from eternal death;
You equip me to do your will.

O God, you are holy, beyond all praising.

How can I exalt you enough?

Your Son and Spirit exalt you,
transforming my inadequacy into exquisite melody.