by Art Laffin, Teacher of Peace

Shout out, don’t hold back.
Lift up your voice like a trumpet.
Announce to my people their rebellion,
To the nation their sins.
Yet, day after day, the rulers and countless people invoke my name,
as if they practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They delight to invoke my name to bless their violent deeds.
They use my name to bless their wars and their weapons.
We practice good religion, they say.
We pray and serve our country well.
We keep good law and order.

Look, you serve your own interests, not mine says Yahweh.
You follow your religion of nationalism, nuclearism, and materialism.
You are slaves to selfishness.
You know not my ways.
You don’t know how to fast– your rituals are empty.
You assert an authority you say is rooted in morality– based on justice and truth.
You hypocrites!
Your morality is rooted in worshiping idols– gods of metal, money, power, greed.
You are desecrating and destroying the earth!
You worship false gods, not me!

Is not this the fast that I choose–the real act of worship that I desire:
to undo the thongs of the yoke, to renounce empire,
to resist all violence, racism, sexism, discrimination and killing,
to let the oppressed go free, to disarm and abolish all weapons,
to end all  injustice,
to reverence all life and to safeguard Your holy creation!

Is it not to share your resources with the poor, to offer hospitality to the homeless, to welcome the refugees and immigrants, to clothe the naked, and to provide quality housing, health care, food, education and work for everyone?
Is it not to make sure that the dignity of each person is respected and to recognize that all human beings are sisters and brothers, children of God?
Is it not to eliminate poverty and abolish war so that people can live in justice and peace?
Then and only then shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly.
Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and the Lord will say,
Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
the demonization and scape-goating of your adversaries,
if you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
if you establish justice for the oppressed and proclaim liberty to the captives,
then your light shall rise in the darkness and your despair be transformed into hope.

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.

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