Lent begins today, with Ash Wednesday celebrated here in Gainesville, Fl and pretty much all over the world. At my little church, St. Michael’s Episcopal, our service was at 6 P.M. (I just got home). Though it was sparsely attended, it was a moving service (much about penitence, some confession of sin), with the imposition of ashes accomplished to our few, our happy few, our band of brothers and sisters.
In my childhood, growing up in a Roman Catholic family and attending Catholic school (St. John of the Cross Elementary School), a lot was made of “What are you giving up for Lent?” Typical was candy or desserts, or any other kind of treats — giving up liver, broccoli, or homework was severely frowned upon.
In adulthood, giving something up, especially something like candy (hardly ever eat it) or ice cream (that could work) doesn’t seem so apropos. I thought I’d be guided by Isaiah 58, which we read tonight at our service: Isaiah writes, in part (and remember that he’s channeling\quoting the Lord): “Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free…?”
And, “Is it not to share your bread with the poor…?” You catch the drift — house the homeless, clothe the naked, spend time with your family.
If I do that, Isaiah continues, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”