Breakfast

Image courtesy of piyato/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I never thought I would feel moved to write about a text from Isaiah, but then I never know ahead of time what I am going to write about. This is what caught my attention in church today:

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? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”

Isaiah 58: 6 (NRSV)

Until this morning I never thought about God expecting anything but literal fasting from fasting. This revelation that the Old Testament God would prefer we fight for justice, let the oppressed go free, feed the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless amazed me. It was written way before the time of Christ, and yet it speaks to what our world needs each of us  to do in our daily lives, right now, today!

I have had this bad habit of looking at God dualistic-ally, almost as if I have a Borderline Personality Disorder. Folks with this diagnosis perceive things as “all good” or “all bad” with very little wiggle room perceived between the two opposites. I have tended to see the Old Testament God as the “all bad, all punishing, overly- strict, judgmental God” and the New Testament God as a “loving God” who manifested in human form to gain empathy for our human condition and to extend unconditional love and Grace to us. Now, for the first time, I am starting to realize the Old Testament God was and is also a very loving God.

Fasting, for me, traditionally serves to help transport one’s mind into the spiritual realm. I am not belittling traditional fasting because it does serve an important spiritual purpose. But I am delighted to know my God prefers action to spiritual contemplation. This type of fasting has a much stronger potential for serving humanity in a concrete, here and now, heaven on earth manner. I never thought Isaiah would resonate with my soul, but today he did.

Looking at the word fasting from this new perspective would give our common word “breakfast” a brand new meaning! Instead of attending to our own physical hunger needs it would mean breaking out of our self-centered focus on our own needs and focusing instead on meeting the needs of others.  Now. Today. Every day. If I could do one of the things mentioned in Isaiah once a day as my new form of “breakfast”—-what sorts of things could I do? I could donate food or money to food banks and homeless shelters. I could get involved in or support programs that focus on teaching people to help themselves so that they can escape the oppression of poverty. I could try to address the needs of the spiritually hungry or oppressed.  I could donate clothing and other goods to the Salvation Army.  I really can’t list all the possibilities here, but just trying to makes me realize there are thousands of small ways that would let me do one thing on a daily basis to “break my fast.”

It sounds a little like “pass it forward.” In this instance, the “it” is God’s love being shared with others. My God wants me to be open to accepting his will and his love so I can, in turn, share love with others as I go about practicing this preferred  type of “fasting.” This is not to say I’m giving up on eating a traditional breakfast every morning—–I am just going to try to think of it as my “morning meal” and to address  “breaking my fast” in my morning prayers to God—–the ones that turn my will and my life over to him and ask for knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry that will out. Today, God has helped me get a better understanding of what his will is for me; God sometimes answers my prayers in wonderful, unexpected, and exciting ways. God bless and keep you.

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