Quinn G. Caldwell
Many of us will fast this Lent. We will give up chocolate or red meat or American Idol, so that when we feel the craving for these things, we will be reminded of God's craving for us. Isaiah, writing long before the first Lent, says that while this kind of fast is OK, it just isn't enough.
He suggests a different kind of fast: one from all injustice and oppression. Oh, sure, Isaiah! No problem. For most of us, the only injustice we're part of is systemic: it's in the institutions and cities and countries where we live. How are we supposed to give up that? Move to Antarctica?
It's not simple, but maybe we can just start. Maybe there's a way to take a "journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-a-single-step" approach. What if we began with fasting from just one piece of injustice: from non-fairly-traded coffee, from stores that don't compensate their workers fairly, from driving when public transportation is available? What if we just start?
What change might we create in the world, or in ourselves, with such small steps? Would it be enough? For Isaiah, who is known for being unyielding, probably not, frankly. But for God, who is known for being merciful and loving? Almost definitely.
Prayer: Dear God, I want to be close to you. Save me from easy fasts and from believing I have to save the whole world. Teach me the fast you desire, and give me the strength to just start. Amen.