Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday after Ash Wednesday

DAY 3: February 19, 2021                                            Friday after Ash Wednesday- Isaiah 58: 1-7

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 him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” –Isaiah 58:7

Israel was caught walking through the motions of fasting and prayer. Their actions were accurate and right but unacceptable in the sight of God because of their misuse of the poor and their neglect of those in need. In his epistle, James reminds us, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that ? So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead.” –James 2:15-17 John in his first epistles warns, “If anyone with earthly possessions sees his brother in need, but withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God abide in him?" – 1 John 3:17

If we feel no compassion, if we turn away from a brother in need when we have the means to help him, our inactivity condemns us. Luther reminds us, “God is merciful. Yet He is not idle. He does not let sinners go unpunished. To the humble, who fear Him, He is merciful…There are several degrees of love…an enemy must not be offended, a brother must be helped, a member of one’s household must be supported. You know Christ’s commands concerning love for one’s enemies. But you owe more to a brother who loves you in return.”[2]

True, we are redeemed by grace through faith for Jesus’ sake. Grace, mercy, even faith are all gifts. When speaking to the healed leper Jesus says, “Rise and go your way, Your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:19 Rise up. Go. And keep going.  Your faith has and continues to save you. Faith is always busy and active.

Lent is a time of meditation and service. We focus on the words and actions of Christ. We serve the neighbor as Christ first serves us. We love as Christ first loved us. We provide for our neighbor as Christ has cared for us. May our words and actions always be motivated by love in acts of mercy and care.

We beseech Thee, O Lord God, to turn Thy face from our sins, and to blot out all our transgressions; and as the publican, who stood afar off, was heard in his humility, so hear us not for our own merits, but for the merits of Him who, being co-equal with Thee, His Father, yet for our sakes took upon Him the form of a servant, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen[3]

 Support us, O Lord, with Your gracious favor through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily self-denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[4]

[1] Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things
[2] Luther’s Works American Edition 30:278 copyright © Concordia Publishing St. Louis Fortress Philadelphia, 1955-86
[3] A Lenten Prayer © 2005 Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood
[4]Collect for Friday after Ash Wednesday,

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