Love in Action


This graphic, including words from Duke Chapel Dean Luke Powery in this morning's Ash Wednesday service, go hand ind hand with my Devotion published by Habitat for Humanity International this week. 

Love in action
By Frank Wrenn

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? 
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

— Isaiah 58:5-7, New International Version

I usually hear this Scripture at Ash Wednesday services, as my congregation begins the season of Lent. For many, Lent is a time to fast or to deny ourselves of something. It seems ironic that this Scripture would lead into this season. Yet it reminds me, even as the ashes are put on my forehead, that it is not the appearance of contrition or piety that matters, but rather the question of how I am answering God’s call to serve others.

Does it matter that I’m fasting if I’m not helping to feed those who are hungry?

Does it matter that I’m following all the rituals if I’m not fighting systemic oppression and marginalization?

Does it matter that I just attend church when I’m called to BE the Church? 

There is a great difference between professing one’s faith and living it. There is a giant chasm between claiming to love our neighbor and putting God’s unbounded love into action.

Shortly after washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus proclaimed, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34. He showed this love to His disciples by the visible action of washing their feet. The love of Christ demands action from us.

We are called not to only proclaim our faith, but to live our faith and Christ’s love through action. And isn’t that exactly what Habitat’s ministry is about? “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.” 


Lord, help us to know that we live in Your world and are called to love and called to be the Church: to celebrate Your presence, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil. Give us the strength to break the cycle of oppression and injustice. Help us as we endeavor to be Your Church, bringing about Your kingdom on Earth. Amen.


1.    What am I doing to set the oppressed free? To clothe and shelter those in need?

2.    Do the actions of my faith community fight injustice or support the status quo? 

3.    How am I being called to live my faith? How am I being called to love others? 

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