Pimping the ride of compassion?

It seemed as good a title as any…

You don’t light a lamp and put a bowl over it says Jesus.  The Twitterati with thanks to @thechurchmouse who came up with a list of modern equivalents for this message:
No one turns on the light then shuts his eyes
Nobody has one of the world’s best cricketers available for selection but sacks him instead…
No one signs Suarez and plays him in the reserves.
No one sings “Land of my Fathers” (insert relevant national song) without a sentimental smile
No one buys an iPad and uses it as a chopping-board.   (must be an app for that?)
No one buys a masterpiece and hangs it in the box room?”
No-one has a baby and lays him in a manger?   the exception proves the rule!
No one goes to IKEA and then leaves with only what was on their shopping list.
No one makes a road sign and then hides it behind a hedge?
You don’t pull a party popper in your armpit?
No one pimps their ride then parks it in the garage

I feel like i’ve lit more than a lamp this last week.  Not being one to shy away from courting controversy, neither one to light a flaming torch and hide it behind the sofa, the poverty campaign went to the press this week.  You should by now have heard about the Foodbank Challenge – in fact it was announced first at our nine lessons and carols, so really it’s old news in these parts, however, the rest of the world seems to be waking up to this as a National UK Poverty campaign for Lent is announced in the media this week, (the website goes live today).

The readings for today from Isaiah has an oft quoted verse on fasting, Is not this the fast that I choose? Fasting is an important part of the biblical world and it should be an important part of our christian witness.  We prepare for our seasons of celebration with a time of fasting and preparation.  Both Advent and Lent are such times.  In the Old Testament Esther calls a national fast for three days in preparation for her challenge to the King, however her fast is not only spiritual and prayerful, it is active and in the end successful in stopping the persecution.  Jesus suggests fasting should be done with a cheerful face rather than in sorrow and mourning.  We are not to hide away, but to get out and continue on our way strengthened by the spiritual discipline of fasting, but not weighed down by it.  I have found that an empty stomach really does focus the mind.  The passage in Isaiah calls us to fast not for our own spiritual enlightenment, but for the support and relief of others.  Our actions do not store up treasures for ourselves on earth or even brownie points for heaven.  They do help to bring about the alleviation of suffering:  to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, share bread with the hungry, bring the homeless into our house.  Then says Isaiah shall your light break forth like the dawn.  Is it too much to hope for?  I don’t see why it should be.  The campaign this lent is breaking down taboo and speaking truths that are being ignored or hidden for convenience.  Truth and lies commission has published an eye opening report into poverty and the public perception.  It is easy to label and point the finger and lets us off the hook of being compassionate.  Compassion is a wonderful word it means ‘to suffer with’.  To have compassion for those in poverty is to share in their suffering.  to begin to understand the issues more deeply is to change our minds and to act in a Christ like way.  Is not this the fast that I choose?