Isaiah 58: 4-12 (NRSVA)
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 rearguard.
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.
Can you imagine the air is swirling with sleet and darkness is already an hour old? Not only that, you are 6 hours walk from your car and there is nowhere to pitch your tent. However, you have arrived at a bothy, and it is aglow with a fire and candles, the warmth of song is spilling forth. Your mood lifts but panic starts to set in as you realise the place is full to bursting. Sleeping bags litter the floor and it looks like it is already oversubscribed by four or five bodies… your heart sinks but is immediately rescued by a cheerful cry of “Always room for one more!”
And that is the rule, no matter the situation there is always room for one more. The shelter can always find a way of fitting in that extra body. It might be a little less comfortable than you would like, but the shelter is there and you are out of the storm.
Shelter is not a zero sum game; you don’t lose shelter by allowing someone else to come in out of the storm. Arguably your shelter is improved by the resources and body heat of the extra person.
The same is true with the new kind of shelter found in God. There is no competition for resources and it only really works if we all join together. No-one is truly safe from the storm until all are safe from the storm. No justice is truly justice until all are treated justly. No love is really shown until you show all people love for who they are.
Help me be prepared so that there is always room for one more.
Help me to look to you and remember that I don’t lose shelter when I give it to others.
Help me keep on the path, knowing that I have to be ready to shelter together with all whom I encounter on the way.
Lent Legacy 2021 Action
The Transforming Shelter: Think about your local area/town/city and reflect on the people living around who could be struggling or suffering, who perhaps can’t rely on their shelter or accommodation. Commit to pray for your neighbourhood and those same people every day this week.