The Fast God Seeks

To the proud and the haughty,

To the bruised and the broken,

The prophet lifts up the trumpet of God.

The prophet declares the judgment of God.

To the impatient and smug,

To the sad and discouraged,

The prophet shouts out

The Word of God.

To some, words of comfort;

To some, words of challenge.

God speaks of rebellion in the form of a turn–

A turn from righteousness into ritual.

To those home from exile,

To those living in ruin,

God offers a way,

A way back into righteousness:

Leave that sackcloth behind.

Wash those ashes off your face.

God does not call for stoic denial;

A tender heart is what God seeks.

Leave that sackcloth behind.

Wash those ashes off your face.

This is not the fast that God desires,

This is not the fast we’re called to keep.

Don’t beat your chest.

Don’t wail or moan.

This is not the fast that God desires.

This is not the fast we’re called to keep.

It’s not about you; it’s not about me

It’s not about our solemn ways.

It’s about our sense of us

Our common kin and our connectedness.

Ashes to ashes

Dust to dust

Again and again

Our Ash Wednesday refrain.

Ashes to ashes,

Dust to dust,

Words to remind us

That we are one.

“Loose the bonds; undo the thongs,”

“Share your bread;”  house the homeless.

This is the fast God chooses for us.

This is the turn into righteousness.

Commitment for life

Not just for a season.

Work harder by far

Than ashes and sackcloth.

The work of repairer,

The way of restorer:

Healing the breach,

Making safe the street.

Today we’re invited to a holy Lent—

To walk the way of righteousness; to do the works of justice.

This is the fast God calls us to.

This is the fast God chooses for us.

God—to whom we’ve always belonged;

God to whom we’re called to turn.

Remember that we are God’s

And to God we shall return.

The Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch

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