Daily Lenten Devotions from Church Street UMC
Wednesday, February 17, Evening
By Rev. Pat Clendenen, Visitation Pastor, March 26, 2017
Read Isaiah 58:1-12
The Israelites of Isaiah’s day had a handle on rituals. Sackcloth, ashes, and fasting were something they had mastered. Yet, it never changed their behavior. Amazingly, they wondered why things stayed the same, even pointing out to God their righteousness –“Why do we humble ourselves but you don’t even notice?”
While serving in the Alaska Missionary Conference, I had the opportunity to attend a Walk to Emmaus. We began this 4-day spiritual retreat by meeting with our assigned groups. It didn’t take long to realize that the weekend was going to be difficult. One person’s rigidity and intolerance had already closed the door to any meaningful interactions. As we headed to dinner, the tension was palpable. I found myself trying to find a reason to leave, not wanting to spend the weekend embroiled in these kinds of discussions.
Walking to dinner, our group was quiet. Then I began to pray, and even my prayer surprised me, for I prayed that God would change my attitude, “Open my heart to see that you are also working through this person, that he, too, is one of your children.” It seems we had all spent most of dinner in silence, praying for guidance. When we came back together, we just sat there — no one spoke. Then, the very person who had angered me and others, said: “I guess we’re all afraid to speak!” That broke the ice and set in motion four days of tearing down walls and opening ourselves to profound new understandings.
The transforming power of the Risen Christ had softened our hearts, giving us new eyes to see, new ears to hear.
God help me to face my own heart; shine your light inside of me. I want to be known by you. Help me, this season of Lent, to let you in.