“The Lord roars from Zion
and utters his voice from Jerusalem…”
In preparing for the season of Lent as a family, we are afforded the reminder that we are all in desperate need to not only hear from God, but to be obedient to that voice. He calls and we respond, just as Amos does. It is in this time that we can pause to reflect on the justice and mercy of God, especially in light of the injustice and mercilessness in which we live. Being surrounded by that is not a reflection of God; rather it is a reflection of ourselves.
Isn’t it interesting in this passage that we see God lay out how He is going to deal with sin, with rebellion, with injustice.
They’ve divided people; they’ve exiled people; they’ve forgotten to treat each other as family; they’ve given themselves away to gain things that don’t last. These are all things with which we wrestle today in our culture. And they can be quite overwhelming, causing us to bend beneath the weight of them. It can feel like a heavy burden, an oppression, and yet, somehow, we can think that everything is fine around us as long as we are okay.
But we aren’t. And this is where the season of Lent comes in, for it gives us pause to reflect on our own sinfulness, our frailty, our helplessness. The season of Lent offers us opportunity to hear the voice of God through fasting, just as Jesus did. He deliberately went to the desert for forty days to be without food but with the Father before He even began His ministry, for He knew that not only was temptation coming, but so were those heavy burdens of a sinful culture. He knew, then, that in order to be filled with the Father, He would have to deny Himself and replace that longing for food with the only One who can remedy that: God the Father.
This passage in Amos is a perfect reminder of the powerful roar of the lion (Creator God), that, when His voice roars, we (the created) can wither under His power. “The pastures of the shepherds mourn” is a phrase that gives us a sense of loss, of weeping, of complete devastation, while even at the mountaintop, a place normally reserved for beauty and victory, we see that “the top of Carmel withers,” a foreboding of the high places made flat.
The challenge, then, for this Lenten season is to look inwardly–live righteously–and to act outwardly–to do justice. This process begins with identifying the things that are keeping us from doing that and giving them up for a season. Biblical fasting is when one deny’s one’s self food and replaces it with the true bread that is Christ, whether that be reading His Words, talking to Him in prayer, listening the the Holy Spirit, or meditating on His Ways. It is a time when we can look at our sinfulness and repent so that we may live as we are called, set apart, holy, and as a reflection of His restorative and redemptive work.
UP: How do you want to better know God during this season?
IN: What will you fast during Lent and with what will you fill that void?
OUT: Who is one person you can bless in the next few days?
Join us for an Ash Wednesday service at the Quincy parish building (158 Washington St, Quincy), this Wednesday, February 14th @ 6am.