Jesus in his solidarity with the marginal ones is moved to compassion. Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness . . .
Empires are never built or maintained on the basis of compassion. The norms of law (social control) are never accommodated to persons, but persons are accommodated to the norms. Otherwise the norms will collapse and with them the whole power arrangement. Thus the compassion of Jesus is to be understood not simply as a personal emotional reaction but as a public concern against the entire numbness of his social context.
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
Read: Isaiah 58
God does not care if we fast, pray, and busy ourselves with “religious activity,” all the while ignoring injustice and suffering around us. Do we really care about others? Our efforts now to draw close to God mean nothing if we ignore the needs of those around us. In fact, we see by the end of this chapter, we will not find satisfaction in God until we stop working so hard for our own satisfaction. As we meet as churches, either virtually or face-to-face, how do we need to “pivot” from religious activity to loving God by loving others? In the midst of, or coming out of, this crisis, how can we “fast from injustice and oppression” as God says?
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
For more information on the idea of “Sabbath” check out this Sabbath video from Bible Project.
“God of hope, whose spirit gives light and power to your people, empower us to witness to your name in all the nations, to struggle for your own justice against all principalities and powers and to persevere with faith and humor in the tasks that you have given to us. Without you we are powerless. Therefore we cry together: Maranatha [O Lord, come].”
Thomas G. Pettepiece, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants, 193.