What if, on ash wednesday, we put question marks on our foreheads instead of crosses?
Many think the question for ash wednesday is, “How awful am I?”
Isaiah points out that there are better questions.
First our questions (say it with a whine) “Why do we fast, but you do not see us, God? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
If those are the questions we are asking God, boy, are we in trouble. ‘Cause here is the answer we get:
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist.
Well, that should shut us up.
So what do we ask?
Am I loosening the bonds of injustice?
Am I undoing the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke?
Am I sharing my bread with the hungry?
Am I bringing the homeless poor into my house?
Am I covering the naked?
Am I not hiding myself from my own kin?
This isn’t just a task for individuals – who else is willing to ask the questions with you?
Are we loosening the bonds of injustice, undoing the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke?
Are we sharing our bread with the hungry, bringing the homeless poor into our houses, covering the naked, not hiding myself from our own kin?
The best part is the power that we are promised in living the questions:
Then your light shall break like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; you will be protected from the front and the back.
Your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
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.
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.
Does it get any better than that?
Has anyone ever told you that your name is Repairer O. Breach or Restorer O. Streets?
Yes, you have been told.
Live the questions.