March 5: The Repairer of the Breach

The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
   and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
   like a spring of water,
   whose waters never fail. 
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
   you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
   the restorer of streets to live in. 

Isaiah 58:11-12

You will be glad to note that, technically, the Sunday of Lent are not fast days; they are considered feast days, and thus, you do not have to observe your fast on Sunday. We don't have that luxury; since we are practicing the fast that God chooses, we can never cease the work of justice.

Instead, each Sunday we will focus on one positive and inspirational example of a person who is actively working for justice. 

In today’s Scripture reading, we find the prophet speaking words of hope to the Israelites whom he has been roundly criticizing. 

Isaiah recognizes that the societal fabric of his context has been breached by injustice and oppression. He can see that things don’t work the way they are supposed to work because people have stopped living by the moral framework which God has provided. There are holes in the social safety net; there are potholes in the road to prosperity and abundance.

He has spoken truthfully about the real condition of his day and time. But he is not pessimistic. Instead, he is hopeful that the people listen to his warning, and act toward setting things right.

Isaiah promises that the one who does justice will be called “repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets.”

Our cities and neighborhoods are in desperate need of repairers and restorers, too. Our institutions and civic organizations are crumbling and in need of vigorous involvement and commitment. 

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber is a Disciples of Christ pastor in Goldsboro, North Carolina who set out to do exactly that. He started a justice movement by staging Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. The weekly protests grew in strength and received national attention. 

Since then, Rev. Dr. Barber has started a non-profit called, appropriately enough, Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, ecumenical organization that seeks “to repair the breaches caused by centuries old systems of racial and gender inequality.” The group is actively trying to start a New Poor People's Campaign, to continue the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps you remember Rev. Dr. Barber from his passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Let the following quote be your inspiration for the week ahead:

“In my heart, I’m troubled and I’m worried about the way faith is cynically used by some to serve hate, fear, racism, and greed. Jesus, a brown-skinned Palestinian Jew, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken, and the bruised and all those who are made to feel unaccepted.”

PRAYER: God, make us repairers and restorers. May our faith inspire us to serve love, trust, hope, joy, and peace. Lead us to those who are poor, broke, and bruised. Thank you for all the ways in which we see your grace pouring through us. Amen.