Daily Devotion For Saturday March 04, 2017

March 4

March 4, 2017 �" “Empty Rituals”

Isaiah 58: 1-12; Matthew 18:1-7

Lent is a time when we practice many rituals to center our hearts and minds on the journey to the cross and the Easter resurrection. Fasting, giving up of something, more time in prayer, you can finish the list. The readings in Isaiah and Matthew provide us with some special guidance about rituals.

The Isaiah reading cautions us against what I would call “empty rituals” or rituals for the sake of rituals. When our daily lives testify differently than the rituals we do, they become meaningless. He tells us that our fast should be about doing justice, feeding the hungry, and giving shelter to the homeless. That is the fast in which God delights.

Jesus’ words in Matthew give us even further guidance. How are we to go about these rituals? As children. Young children give �" without guile, without expectation of return, humbly. It reminds me that Jesus taught that we should not practice our piety (a.k.a. rituals) in public but rather in private.

Rituals can be a positive experience but when they become a stumbling block to ourselves or others, we need to stop and assess. Is what we are doing promoting justice, helping those in need, or is it closing doors to others, ignoring needs? In the words of the old hymn, “they will know we are Christians by our love”.

Dear God of Love and Mercy, As we go about our lives may we find ways to practice rituals that are pleasing to you and may they uplift you and be a source of hope to others. Amen
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