Broken-And-Breaking

Broken and Breaking

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Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
1   Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2   Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
3   “Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
4   Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
5   Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
6   Is 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?
7   Is 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?
8   Then 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.
9   Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10  if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11  The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
12  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 live in.
It sounds like a dream come true, at least from a pastors perspective – the pews are filled, the budget is met, the observances are…observed. The people seek the Lord and delight to draw near to God. It’s the ecclesiastic fantastic…well, at least on the surface, and as we all know looks can be deceiving.
This is a people trying to figure out how to reinvent itself with the Babylonian exile – and the hope of returning to their homes in Israel. It sounds like they are off to a good start with their spiritual disciplines. They are fasting – forgoing food in an effort to please God (atoning for sins), but it’s not leading to right practice.
Isaiah challenges them that they are starting at the wrong place…what good is worship without community?
• Oppress Workers
• Quarreling and Fighting
• Striking with the Wicked Fist
You want to know why God isn’t close – even when you’re going through all these fasts and public displays – perhaps, you’re more concerned with legalism than with love – spending more time looking religious than building relationships – Their heads are down and they don’t see … their eyes are closed and they don’t notice…
What good is a fast? Doing things right, but doing people wrong?
• to loose the bonds of injustice,
• to undo the thongs of the yoke,
• to let the oppressed go free,
• and to break every yoke?
• Is 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?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn…the world needs more light right now.
Matthew 5:13-20
13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” There’s a good chance you’ve sung this before. It’s one of the first Sunday school songs I think I picked up.
There is so much darkness in the world…and we wonder how much light is coming from us….what good can such a small flame do in the dark wind? Our candle is flickering and our oil is low.
The message today is simple: YOU are the light of the world, but it’s not YOUR light. We have no light of our own.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12, NRSV.)
I believe it was C.S. Lewis who observed, that followers of Christ are like the moon – it has no light of its own, it can only reflect the suns rays. As Christians, we have no light of our own, we can only reflect the light of Christ. It is for this reason that Jesus said,
You are salt. You are light. It’s not, if you do this, you’ll be light…You are the light…when you become a mirror of God’s love. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton
But, these are broken times, and oftentimes, we feel like broken people. How can light reflect through shattered mirrors? What good is it?
There is still beauty in the broken – allowing God’s light to shine into those dark places we keep locked up safe and airless.
Paul calls every believer a saint, and that’s what we are (consecrated, holy, pious), but we know every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
God can use those broken things to become something breaking forth.
If we are the light of the world, it means we have to go out into those dark places, and I think it starts with us – with our spirits.
• Look In. – What part of your life are you afraid of light getting to? What corners of your soul do you want to keep hidden? It is those very places that God wants to enter, to heal, to shine the light of wholeness.
• Go Out. – The world is filled with despair, but as Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
• Lift High. – Be vulnerable, and be with and for the vulnerable. Pay attention to the needs of those around you.

6   Is 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?
7   Is 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?
8   Then your light shall break forth like the dawn…

Your brokenness can be another’s blessing – a light breaking a beautiful prism of colors through the cracked mirror of our lives.

 


 

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