In the fourth week of Lent, Bishop of Horsham the Rt Rev Mark Sowerby has submitted his Lent reflection looking at the prophet Isaiah’s message for our times.
Lots of people give up something over Lent, until Easter, perhaps chocolate, alcohol, sugar or maybe biscuits, but there are problems with it. Sometimes it is like New Year’s resolution: one slip up and you give up altogether. Another temptation is to use it as a diet, shedding a few pounds over the spring before the summer holiday’s sunbathing.
Even if you save what you might otherwise have spent on chocolate, booze or fags over Lent and give it away (good though that might be), it has no lasting effect upon you. Lent should make a lasting change to us. Our after-Easter life should be quite different (and not just thinner) than it would otherwise have been.
If you gave up chocolate, beer or cigarettes, consider what the prophet Isaiah has to say: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58. 6)
If we took Isaiah to heart, it would make a real difference to our own lives and countless others too.
This Lent coincides with the ‘IF’ campaign mounted by major aid agencies. ‘IF’ seeks justice for developing countries which are deprived of income by companies that do not pay the tax that they ought to pay to the world’s poorest countries. ‘IF’ invites us to write to our MPs asking them to press for action strengthening international law and to fulfil the government’s commitment to give 0.7 per cent of GDP to overseas aid.
It is not too late to embark upon the fast Isaiah commends and to commit ourselves to the justice God requires. (www.enoughfoodif.org)