February 25 Ash Wednesday Isaiah 58:1-12
When someone says “Live defiantly,” I immediately think of someone shouting scripture passages in a town square, surrounded by a jeering crowd. I think it might be a bit less dramatic.
Perhaps living defiantly isn’t about proclaiming a belief or stating a position, but about humbling ourselves to serve others. Perhaps living defiantly is more about the living and less about the talking. This passage makes me believe that living defiantly might not mean taking a stand in a crowd of people who disagree with me. Maybe it means paying attention to those people I pass on the street each day.
This is more difficult than it seems at first blush. As Trevor Hudson writes in A Mile in My Shoes, “Constant media bombardment of human need often breeds a bland familiarity that generalizes suffering men and women into groups like the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the elderly. Within these generalizations, we lose sight of the spiritual dimensions present in each human being. Our anonymous encounters with beggars, street children, destitute men and women give rise to a sense of powerlessness that makes many of us look in another direction.” What beautiful possibilities can we find in being empowered to see the spiritual dimensions of each person, no matter what race, class or socio-economic status. The imagery of our light rising in the darkness reinforces the beauty of seeing the good in each person.
Maybe living defiantly has a more tangible, attainable quality. Maybe it means, quite literally, feeding the hungry in this city. Maybe it means choosing a career not based on traditional notions of success or salary potential, but on the potential for speaking out for the oppressed and taking a stand against the oppressors. The good news is that we are not alone in this struggle. Verse 11 reminds us that the Lord guides us always. Let us take strength in knowing that we do not face these considerable challenges alone.
Dear God, thank you for the many blessings of our lives and help us to live defiantly by alleviating the suffering of others.