Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings
I’m really, really feeling this reading from Joel. If you’re not using Joel, I’m mostly wondering why not (but also scroll down for some thoughts on Matthew)?
I had a nightmare last week about a nuclear attack – I can still feel the sonic boom that rushed through me a few seconds before I woke up, terrified, wondering if my dream was just a dream or an omen of things to come. Like so many others, I feel that day of gloom and shadow coming in my bones and in my blood. I wake up most days wondering what the hell might be next.
We are all feeling it. Though we fear different things, one feeling I think most Americans share is fear. Fear, rage, dread: these feelings are spreading like a virus. This virus doesn’t get a CDC warning or time on the news (the news is, in fact, a contagion), but it is taking more lives than the dreaded Coronoa virus or the annual flu. Yet, the shadow overtaking us has yet to block out the sun; most of us know this is going to get worse.
Our fields have not been laid to waste, but far too many know starvation both of their bodies and their souls. Some are starved for food, some for justice (and often these people are one in the same).
So what are we to do as we await the days to come? Gnash our teeth? Freeze in fear? Rend our clothing?
No, no, this is not the solution.
God invites us to return to them. Calling, always calling us back to the source, to our source, to love and be loved. Look at this language! We aren’t being called back so God can scream at us or punish us (which too often seems to be how Lent leaves people feeling). We are being called back to God in our tears and mourning for a holy time. Called to fast (and we know what kind of fast God chooses, at least according to Isaiah). Called to gather together in a sacred (as one translation I found defined asarah) assembly. We are called to come together for sacred time of repentance.
Too often we don’t talk about how amazingly sacred repentance is. We have managed to frame it in a way that people feel like it is a chore and led people to equate repentance with shame. But here’s the thing: we *get* to repent. We get to sit in the loving presence of God and one another to take a good hard look at our lives so that we might see where we have gone wrong, apologize, make amends, and life differently. We have a blessed opportunity to be made new.
This is the Revised Common Lectionary sermonizing archive.