2019 Mar 15
The light of life, the light of Christ.
This Ash Wednesday the Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah 58 read in part :
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?
7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
From this I choose for all of my Lent this theme:
What is the acceptable fast?
When fish became a common fast, Fridays one gave up other meats to eat only fish. It was indeed a matter of justice. It was designed to help struggling fishers by creating a larger market for their product.
Then it became a mark of piety, a proud mark of piety, that one could eat fish.
Always good works become meaninglessly banal and then a perversion of the original goodness.
Life is about remembering, and always being creative with purpose driving creativity.
So what is it this Lent that we give up, not for the giving up, but that others will have the basics of life!?;
so that the bonds of injustice will be loosened, the yokes will be untied, the oppressed will see freedom, every yoke of slavery and oppression will be broken, no one will hunger, go unclothed, or remain homeless.
Note that this is more than everyone will have shelter sufficient, which is more basic. This is that everyone will have a home. A home means among other things that one has a place marked for one as a unique individual, one has a place one belongs, is cared for, cares for others, and most of all where one can go in the best of times and the worst of times and the doors are open to one.
The light of beauty.
Technically, I am homeless, so I am sensitive to this issue.
By the grace of God and generosity of many different people, I have a home: a borrowed old 18’ camper, attached to a 9.5’x8’ tarp shelter on a trailer in which there is a rebuilt wood stove that provides heat sufficient even at -40°C. It just takes an awful lot of wood.
The challenge is I have no where to set up the camper and trailer, so I am a guest of the Queen on Crown Land, always temporarily.
Fortunately there are locations where this all works:
Oh and there are many other challenges including connecting the camper and the trailer-shelter, and setting up the arrangement for 14 days at a time. Then I have to tear it all down, pack it up, and move it off Crown land. That’s a lot of work and a lot of money in gasoline to move the trailer and the camper.
It takes at least two days to set up, and a day and a half to tear down, more when it’s colder than -15°C. In the deeper cold it is only possible if I get the wood heat going, and stoke the fire full blast, with doors still open and heat the inside up to 50°C so I have a place to warm up between stints of working outside, and a toasty place to warm up boots and gloves that I switch back and forth.
But it is my home such as it is, and for that I am thankful.
Financially I am hanging on by a thin thread. Though so far though I have not gone hungry, not that my diet has been the best all the time, and my health demands a pretty careful diet.
My situation is a result of others bearing false witness against me, which is injustice, raw and simple and very destructive … and obvious.
But I am not yoked, or enslaved, or oppressed as most would understand those terms. I am not unclothed. (That would bring one to a very quick end in the Canadian winter.)
And I am alive. Though challenged sometimes close to my capacity to meet the challenge, I live well.
That is a statement of resilience and faith, of seeing God at work when others seem oblivious.
At sunrise, as the wood smoke wafts up through the woods, especially as I start a new load in the furnace before the smoke gets hot enough to burn real cleanly, this reality bears witness to God’s presence, to Christ’s light, to the promise that God is here with me. In the wilderness and cold, in the solitude and quiet God is here as the wood furnace works to help me survive. Wonderfully the stove gives off what is needed for me to see the presence and power of the sunrise light even before it hits the solar panels sufficient to provide electricity to recharge the batteries.
The Light Undoubtedly Breaking In With Blessings
God blesses us that we may be blessings to others.
This Lent may our fasts be undertaken, not for us, but to bring to all justice, freedom, clean water and air, food and clothing, homes and meaningful labour, love and, most of all, hope.
Remember God’s promises.
Remember the victims in Christchurch.
Remember without fear.
Live well, that terror have no place among us.