“Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)
Holy Spirit, please move in the preaching in this diocese so that you people are convicted of their sin and truly repent.
Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and you take no notice?’ (Isaiah 58:2-3a)
Jesus, bring us to true repentance.
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? (Isaiah 58:3b-5)
Father, please move in our hearts and do an inward work in us that will let your light shine forth.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)
Lord, please help us set the captives and the oppressed free.
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)
Jesus, help us reach out and embrace your little ones who are in need.
Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58:8 )
LORD, let your glory be manifested among us. Help us see and walk by your light. Let your light sine on the visit of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori to this diocese.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, (Isaiah 58:9)
Holy Spirit, shut the lions mouths as you did for Daniel and stop the “strife of tongues” (See Psalm 31:20).
If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)
Holy Father, please help us extend our soul to the hungry — both the physically hungry and the spiritually hungry. Thank you.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:11)
Lord, let this diocese be a watered garden where people find refreshment for their souls. Help the Presiding Bishop find it such a place.
Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (Isaiah 58:12)
Father, help us be repairers of the breach and restorers of streets to dwell in. Bless the prayer table ministry and help us build up the old waste places in our communities. Thank you.
A word received: I AM the true shepherd of the flock; turn to me for direction.
Ash Wednesday: 95 & 32, 143 * 102, 130; Jonah 3:1-4:11; Hebrews 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14
HC: 103 or 103:8-14; Joel 2:1-2,12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12; 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Thursday: 37:1-18 * 37:19-42; Deuteronomy 7:6-11; Titus 1:1-16; John 1:29-34
Notes from the Front Line
***** The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori will be accompanied on her visit to this diocese by her public relations person, Neva Rae Fox. Please pray that their visit will be blessed and anointed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
A Watered Garden, by W. B. Anderson, 1919
I have a precious memory. It is the memory of a garden that I happened upon one tired midsummer’s morning, in the midst of a torrid plain in India. I was weary, and travel-stained, and thirsty, when over the drooping head of the horse, I saw a clump of trees on the far horizon. I hoped it might be a garden. It seemed ages until we should reach it. When we did arrive under the spreading branches of great mango trees, a cool zephyr, as grateful as the fanning of angels’ wings, rippled over my parched cheeks. It was still early in the day, when, swinging myself wearily from the hard seat of the springless yekka, I walked straight into the heart of the garden, down the shady aisle of mango and loquat trees. Before dawn there had been a shower of rain, and now the gardener was running the clear, cool water from the irrigating well all about among trees and shrubs. Everywhere leaves were green and flowers were bright. Parrots circled through the cloudless blue, swung upon the swaying branches, calling merrily to one another. The air was ladened with the intoxicating odors of roses and jasmine. The fountain sparkled laughingly in the shaded center of the garden. I stooped to bathe my hands and face in the cool waters of the fountain’s basin. Then, from its joyous spring I drank until satisfied. I sat for a few precious moments upon the marble edge of the fountain and reveled in the refreshment of a watered garden. The driver called, and I hurried out again across the stifling, heated plain. I had tarried for so short a time, but I was a new man. I carried away the song of the garden in my heart, and its echoes shall never die from my life.
I was making the same journey in another year. The road was more uninviting than before, the weather was hotter, and I was not only weary, but ill. But I had a memory! For hours I looked and longed for the place of the garden of refreshing. At last we came to the shade of its trees. Wearily and weakly, but eagerly, I climbed from the seat of the torturing, springless cart. With unsteady steps I entered the door of the garden. The trees were gray with dust. The flowers drooped in the heat. The little water courses were parched and dry. The fountain was stopped. My soul sank with weariness, and I turned away sick at heart to finish the torturing journey unrefreshed. At the door I met the gardener. I asked him why his garden languished so. He explained with guilty look that he had been absent attending to affairs of his own for a week. I asked him if the raja would not be vexed at the neglect of his garden. He explained that the raja had gone to the mountains for a month. Then I knew that the garden had been neglected because the master’s orders had been disobeyed. He intended that every traveler might be refreshed; but his gardener had not been faithful.
I have a precious memory. It is a memory of a friend. Sin-stricken and weary, and far from God, I was traveling one day when I came into his life. His whole life was wet with the dews of Heaven; his garments were redolent with the odors of Paradise; he just breathed the very life of God. I sat and communed with him, and from within his life there flowed into mine rivers of living water. I walked with him through lovely avenues of restful shade in his friendship, and saw heavenly vistas, and drank from life-giving springs. I went out to my life renewed and refreshed. I was a new man, and there rang through all my being a song of the memory of that blessed life. All through eternity shall the echoes of that friendship call from peak to peak for me.
In time of need and anguish I came again to that friend. I ran to meet him as a shelter from my sore distress. I found him and entered into communion with him. But the fountains of his life seemed dried up. The refreshment seemed to have vanished. His own life seemed parched and drooping. His speech was as the speech of other men. I struggled back to my own life as I came. Later he told me that the King of his life was not being obeyed, and the garden of his heart was not being watered.. The trees and the walks of his friendship were still there, but they no longer soothed and strengthened. The fountain of his friendship was still there, but its waters had been hushed. The King had intended that this garden, this life, should be kept perpetually refreshing for the souls of all who might come to it, but the King had not been obeyed, and the living water had not been kept flowing, and I went away unrefreshed.
Then I prayed, “Oh God, keep flowing into me, and within me, and from within me Thy rivers of living water for the health and joy of other men! Oh, King of life, make my life a watered garden!”