Please join us next Wednesday, on 10 Feb 2015, at The Father’s House, Bangsar Lutheran Church, at 8:00pm for our Ash Wednesday Service, to mark our journey into the season of Lent.
We will be meditating on Isaiah 58:1-12:
True and False Worship
58 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins!
2 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.
3 ‘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.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 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?
6 “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.
7 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.
8 “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.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent… a season marked by stripping away the non-essential and the unimportant, by listening in quietness to the groaning of all creation as it writhes in sinfulness, by reflecting on our own sinfulness and mortality as well as on God’s gift of forgiveness and life eternal which comes through his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We will hear the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” and we are so marked with the dust of ashes. The non-essential is stripped away. The unimportant is removed. In this act, we finally confess that all our finery, our clothing, our possessions, our abilities — all that we think that makes us who we are — is not at all who we are. We are only dust, and we stand as like beings before the Lord.
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