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A paraphrase of a paraphrase of Isaiah 58

February 2, 2008


Isaiah 58

 “Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!

Tell Vineyard Central what’s wrong with their lives,

   face your family VC with their sins!

Friends we’re busy, busy, busy at worship gatherings,

   and we love studying all about God…

By all appearances we’re a group of right-living people—

   law-abiding citizens, God-honoring, even patriotic Americans…

We often ask God, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’

   We love having God on our side, blessing all our plans…

But we also complain,

   ‘God, why do we fast for Lent and you don’t look our way?

   Why do we humble ourselves in this God forsaken neighborhood of west Norwood and you don’t even notice?’

 Well, here’s why… God says, I’ll give it to you straight:

   “The bottom line on Lent and your pious “suffering” on my behalf for you is your own gain, what you will profit from it. 

   You drive your kids and co-workers much too hard. Your schedules are overcooked!

You ‘fast’ for Lent, but at the same time you bicker and fight.

   You fast, but you bash people I love with your unkind and harsh words.

That kind of fasting 

   won’t do jack squat! Your prayers won’t even get off the ground!

Do you really think this is what i want you do for Lent?

   Is this a season to show off how humble you are by giving up something meaningless and suffering for me by going to church in a poor neighborhood?

Is this about putting on a pious long face

   and parading around solemnly?

Do you call that fasting?

   Is that the kind of Lent that I, God, would like?

 “Here’s the kind of Lent I’m after:

    break the chains of injustice, the invisible yet real chains all around you, start looking you’ll see them…

   get rid of exploitation in your workplace, stop taking advantage of others who make less than you do and complaining about those who make more!

   free the oppressed right here in your own backyard!

   cancel debts… let people who owe you money off the hook… do you really need to get every penny back? Are you really going to keep score with your closest friends and family? 

What I’m interested in seeing you do is meeting some basic needs in those around you:

   share your food – a real meal!- with someone who is hungry and can’t afford to go to Krogers to get whatever they want, whenever they want like you can!

   Invite the poor into your home… Are you more concerned about a carpet stain or justice? You know its really me in disguise anyway, right?

   put clothes on the shivering ill-clad and cold… go through your closest – it’s cluttered anyway and you could use the space! Give those seldom used garments to someone who really needs them and will use them right away… its cold… do it now!

   Be available to your own family. Is there a conversation you have been putting off? Is there a sibling or parent you need to forgive? Is there an elderly grandparent crying out for a visit? Don’t wait… start at home. Today. Call. Visit. 

Now here’s the good part!!

Do this and the lights will turn on,

    Your lives will turn around at once. That area of life where you feel stuck? It will be a distant memory. I’ll take of it for you if you care of the them for me….

Your righteousness will pave your way.

   I, the God of infinite glory will make you secure and prosperous in the ways that matter most.

Oh and when you pray, I will answer.

   You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am. Right here. Totally available. What can I do for you?’

 Get rid of all unfair practices,

   quit blaming suffering victims, I’ll sort them out not you!

   quit gossiping about other people’s shortcomings, you have enough of your own to deal with!

Be generous with the hungry, lonely, underserved, underclothed, 

   start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,

Your life will begin to glow in the darkness,

   our shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

I will always show you where to go.

   I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—right here in this abandoned and ridiculed Nazareth of west Norwood!

  You’ll have firm muscles, strong bones Strength to accomplish more than you can now imagine!

Vineyard Central will be like a well-watered garden,

   a gurgling spring that never runs dry.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, lives up and down Mills and Carter!

   rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,

   restore even the old ruins of St Elizabeth’s, rebuild and renovate homes all over this forgotten, abandoned place…

   Together, with me, VC can make this neighborhood livable and thriving.

 Keep a Sabbath

   and don’t use this holy day for personal gain,

Treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,

   God’s holy day for celebration,

Honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’

   making money, running here and there—

Be free to enjoy Me!

   Then I’ll make you ride high and soar.

 You’ll feast on the inheritance of your ancestors”

   God himself says so! It’s available to all who want it. These promises are real and available to you today!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2008 2:57 pm

    Fantastic stuff, Kevin.

  2. February 2, 2008 5:10 pm

    that rocks…

  3. February 3, 2008 2:10 am

    wow! very cool!

  4. Kenny permalink
    February 3, 2008 1:34 pm

    Father, Please have mercy on us.
    Amen, amen and amen!

  5. chaundra permalink
    February 3, 2008 1:39 pm

    Oh, my stained carpet. (substitute: dirty hair, messy car, leftovers, peeling paint, wild kids..) Convinction in the most interesting places. Thanks for sharing.

  6. February 10, 2008 4:53 am

    re-monking lives and re-pimping the prophets. nice.

  7. Angela permalink
    April 9, 2008 6:26 pm

    Hey- you dont know me but I randomly…and very randomly at that…have happened upon your blog. I was actually googling “journey symbols” in the image search and it pulled up the picture of the Barren trees on your blog for some reason. I thought it looked interesting and read it…I love Brother Lawrence. That book is definitely a spirit and soul shaping book.

    Anyway, so I started to look at your other writings, catholic I presume, and happened upon this one. I couldnt help but chuckle to myself…Isaiah 58 is basically my current word. Just this last Sunday night God fully spoke to me in this. I have been reading a book called The Irrisistable Revolution by Shane Claibourne. Amazing by the way, read it. If you havent already. He got to do an internship with Mother Theresa and helped start some pretty cool ministries in Philly.

    Allll that to say…God rocked me in that scripture. We too often consider fasting as this thing we have to do and it has to involve food being stripped from out bellies and thats about it. What I gathered from this word though…is that fasting is not so much about DEpriving yourself of something as it is about PROviding others with something. Of course we would scew it to be about ourselves. Its that human nature.

    But now…man…now I just want to give…to give up…and to give unto.

    come on…anyway, thanks for being a vessel…whoever you are…brother, sister…who knows. Your a lover. Thats all that matters. 🙂


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