Lent is here today. I didn't grow up observing this season of prayer, fasting, and a re-turning to Christ--but like a lot of people, it has become more attractive to me with time. As my life spirals out to include so many others--my husband, children, neighbors, extended family, friends, readers--rhythms have become so important. And so here we are, with Lent such a perfect opportunity to step back from the frantic pace of worry and stress I have found myself in.
My neighborhood is struggling. People are afraid. As my pastor mentioned on Sunday, people like my neighbors--immigrants and refugees, Muslims, people of color, people who cannot afford health insurance, kids who qualify for free school lunches and depend on the local public school--they are getting the message that they do not matter. Some of these populations are actively being vilified for political gain. This is heartbreaking to me. So I'm not giving up coffee or chocolate. Instead, I am re-setting in a different way. I am choosing to focus on one injustice that has been bothering me, and I am prayerfully going to immerse myself in reflection and education about that topic. For me, learning how to best care for and understand our undocumented neighbors is at the top of my priority list. I figure that others might want to learn more about this subject as well, so I will share what I find.
Please join me? I will be posting several times a week, and hope to have a mixture of articles and podcasts and videos to share. On Fridays I hope to have some tangible action steps and plans. And of course, if you have access to resources about how to best understand/support our undocumented neighbors, please comment and let me know!
To start with, a simple request (something I saw from Lynn Hybels twitter account. What a world we live in!):
Start each day of Lent by reading Isaiah 58.
Print it out and hang it in your bathroom. Keep it in your journal by your bedside. Or just read it on your phone. What would happen if we let these prophetic, challenging words shape our imaginations when it comes to fasting, when it comes to how we think God is at work in our world?
This gorgeous chapter is not just about social justice, or a reprimand against how corrupt the people of God had become. It is also a guide for how to be resilient in the face of injustice and inequality. More than anything, I want to be here for the kingdom coming.
"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. 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."
So here's to strong bones. Here's to choosing to fast by focusing on one of the most vilified and least understood populations in America. Here's to becoming repairers of these wide, wide breaches that we find in our world.
Let's choose our fasts carefully this year.
(Tomorrow I will be sharing resources for books to read on the topic of undocumented immigrants in America. I can't wait to hear your suggestions.)