Today, prayerfully consider the Bible's most challenging passage about fasting, Isaiah 58:
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel 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.
Father, we confess that so much of our "religion", White or Indian, is formal or magical, impersonal or manipulative. Help us all to be people who "worship in Spirit and truth."
‘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?
Father, we confess the history of "fighting and quarreling" between our races. We so easily separate our religious ceremonies from your righteous instruction when it comes to daily life. We so easily please ourselves with worship styles that segregate us. Let Christ come among us and break down walls of hostility.“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.
Jesus, show us the way to be your brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. Thank you for the virtue of generosity placed among the Lakota in ancient times. Thank you for your generosity, Jesus, for you "did not count equality with God as something to be grasped, but humbled yourself" to live among us and shed your blood to give us life. Help us to "have your mind" at work in us and to "count others as better than ourselves."“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.
Come, Father, and fight for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. Rise up in great might on the Rosebud, and drive out affliction, poverty, frustration and suicide. Close destruction's trails. Let Jesus come in peace to heal the people. Give us all the Holy Spirit, that we may call on you and stay close to you.
“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.
Holy Spirit, help us to repent of selfishness, stereotypes and resentments. Help us to throw off old ways that oppress, impoverish and isolate us. Help the people of the Rosebud to find a new path for their culture, taking what is good from the old days and adding to it new gifts that you bring in love for them. Teach us how to be good to one another even when we are different.
“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!”
Jesus, come and make lively Christian communities on the Rosebud. Fulfill your promise that where even a few gather, you will be with them. Help us to find life in the Spirit again. Deliver us from a secular view that we are to "fix" one another - help us instead to seek your salvation for every "nation, tribe, people and language," and let your church gather around you to share this Good News.
We pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Daily verse for recollection and prayer: If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92