29/7/11 Isaiah 57-59; Psalm 103; 2 Peter 3
S: Isaiah 58:3-10
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarrelling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumours!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
O: Is this timely or what? The majority of Malaysians are preparing to start fasting (Ramadan for the Muslims, and the 40-day fast leading up to Malaysia day for the Christians) and the Life Journal guy had us read this passage revealed by God to the Prophet Isaiah so many centuries ago! The reading plan I am following was made up by an American, who doesn't know about our Malaysian fasting schedule!
A: It's been observed that fasting without prayer is just dieting. The Church of Jesus Christ has had a long history and tradition of social work. My church has a work among the urban poor in Kinrara, and many other churches also have various kinds of ways to share our food with the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, and give clothes to those who need them.
But what about freeing those who are wrongly imprisoned? I have a couple of friends who have been urging me and other people to attend the candlelight vigils for the EO6 -- the 6 people arrested using the Emergency Ordinance which allows for detention without trial before the BERSIH 2.0 rally, including the PSM member of parliament Dr. Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj. I've thus far not been able to go because of logistical problems -- and tonight I will probably not be able to go again because although we don't have CG tonight, Juliane, Joni and Hannah are sick.
The first 21 days of the peaceful candlelight vigils outside Bukit Aman police headquarters, the police allowed them to do it. But as of last Sunday, they have received orders from above to break it up. Since then, the vigil has been going from one location to another every night. They are frequently threatened by the police now, in spite of the Malaysian constitution guaranteeing the right of citizens to peacefully protest. That right has been ignored by the ruling party for a long time.
Just as I struggled with whether to go for the BERSIH 2.0 rally itself a few weeks ago, I'm now struggling whether to go for the candlelight vigils for the EO6 -- and my responsibilities to my family. I am one of the thousands who have signed the petition to ask for their release, but likely that petition will be ignored by the authorities.
P: Father, give me wisdom what You want me to do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Well, what do you know? I wrote this in the morning of 29 July 2011 and at 5:30pm, the 6 people had been released! Praise God! It just became too politically costly to keep them locked up, as nobody believed that they were Communists as originally alleged.