Doing Nothing But Listening Have you ever tried to spend a whole hour doing nothing but listening to the voice that dwells deep in your heart? … It is not easy to enter into the silence and reach beyond the many boisterous and demanding voices of our world and to discover there the small intimate voice saying: “You are my Beloved Child, on you my favor rests.” Still, if we dare to embrace our solitude and befriend our silence, we will come to know that voice.
Lent is a season of fasting. Of decrease. It's an examination of our inner lives and a deciphering of our true motives. But it does not end there. John Chrysotom, an early Christian mystic said, "No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great." During this Lenten season and beyond our church community will be partnering with Safe Families to advocate on behalf of children in need. More info is to come this Sunday during the Gathering, but check out the link below and read Isaiah 58!
Isaiah 58- True and False Worship “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. “Keep the Sabbath day holy Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
40 is a stock biblical word that has hope at its core. 40 days is a period of testing the reality of one's life examining it for truth, for authenticity? Is this real life or just some cheap imitation passed off on me by a sleight-of-hand culture? Is what I'm doing and saying my own or just borrowed from people who know less than I do about who I am and what I am for? Is God skillfully shaping and wisely guiding my life, or have I left my untutored whims and infantile sins reduce me to the lowest common denominator? Is the way I want to spend the rest of my life?
The 40 days in Noah's arc was a purging, a cleansing of centuries of moral pollution, washing away generations of unreflective gratification. The 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness was training to live into the promises of God, to live by faith in the risky high promised land of blessing. The 40 days of Elijah "on the run" brought him out of the dangerous illusions emanating from Jezebel's court to the place of revelation. The 40 days of Jesus' temptations was a probing of motive and intent, a clarification of the ways in which God worked salvation in contrast to the ways in which religious idolatry seduces us away from God, away from faith. The 40 days of Jesus' resurrection appearances provided verification for the new reality that was now to characterize life in God's kingdom.
-Eugene Peterson Under the Unpredictable Plant
Check out the experiential calendar for postures and practices this Lenten season