February 17, 2021
Scripture: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.
(Joel 2:12-13a, NRSV)
Today is Ash Wednesday. In a year that has felt like a prolonged Lent, we are now going to observe actual Lent.
I have always loved Ash Wednesday. I have felt in my bones the "with-ness" of God in the closeness of the pastor as they speak of mortality and impose ashes on my forehead. I always keep my eyes open during this ritual. This person is giving me bad news, in a way, but is very close to me while giving it. This unusual closeness of a person who is not part of my family feels comforting somehow. Things are difficult, they might get harder, but I am not alone in that moment.
Such is life with God. Things are difficult, they might get harder, but we are never alone.
In the passage from Joel, we are being encouraged to return to God with all our hearts, by whatever means work for us. Returning means we have been wandering in the wrong direction, and of course we have. When ever have we had more on our plates, professionally and personally and collectively?
It is Lent. The days are lengthening, the Northern Hemisphere is turning its energies toward growth, toward new life. We have gotten distracted, and we are now invited to refocus. To return to God with all our hearts. To release our death grip on trying to make things like they used to be, including ourselves. To receive new life.
Let us return, release, and receive together.
O God, help us to step into this new season with open hearts, that we may release all that is not essential and receive new life from your loving hands. Amen..
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church