"For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if
they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands
of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come
near. 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have
we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed? "Yet on the day of your
fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers." Isaiah 59:2-3
There is a novel by Muriel Spark called Memento Mori. It tells about a group
of friends, all over sixty-five, who one by one receive anonymous phone
calls telling them, "Remember, you must die!" The novel, partly serious,
partly humorous, tells how different individuals come to terms with the
telephone message. Though reactions vary, a common reaction is fright.
Still, the anonymous caller often causes characters to think back over their
lives and assess how they have lived-about the good they have done as well
as the not-so-good. In a way, the message they receive about death forces
them to come to terms with the meaning of the life they have lived. Somehow
death leads them back into life. 1
For us Christians, the season of Lent helps us to realize and live this
great truth that death leads us back into life. The sign of the cross on our
foreheads with the imposition of ashes remind us of our mortality. It also
reminds us of our willingness to participate in the long journey of death on
the way of the cross, which leads us back to life.
Isaiah 53:1-12 reminds both Jews and Christians that the way of God; the way
of true fasting and prayer is the way of repentance. According to the
prophet, this way of repentance involves our whole way of life and living.
Our relationship with God shall motivate and guide us to be workers for
justice; to free those who are oppressed; to involve ourselves in acts of
loving-kindness; to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide shelter for
the homeless and the refugees. The prophet tells us that these deeds of
repentance shall be rewarded by God. The Lord will listen and answer our
prayer requests; the Lord will also provide for all of his people's needs
and give them a hope-filled future.
According to this long-standing Israelite tradition, which Jesus also taught
and lived, our faith has a profound influence on how we treat other people.
During this Lenten season, we are given the opportunity and the privilege to
participate in God's Way; the way of true fasting and prayer; the way of
repentance; the way of the cross. This way of the cross involves our whole
life and way of living-including our ways of thinking, speaking and acting.
* Are we prepared to participate in this long journey of death, which
leads us and all people back to life?
* Are we willing to die each day to sin and the powers of death and
* Are we willing to truthfully assess how we are living our lives-and,
if necessary, to make the changes in order to follow God's Way, the way of
* Are we willing to live in a new, reconciled, restored, loving,
hope-filled relationship with our God and with one another?
These are some of the questions the Lord is asking us TODAY as we begin this
Lenten season. What shall our answer be but "Yes, it shall be so,"-which in
the language of faith means Amen!
In His Love & Service,
Pastor Larry E. Campbell
St. Paul A.M.E. Church, San Bernardino, CA