Perhaps you’ve driven down a road to nowhere. You think you know where you’re going, but then the road runs out, and you find yourself sitting in a field. You’ve taken a wrong turn, and now you’re lost. At that point, you don’t have any other choice, except to turn around and retrace your steps, hoping that you’ll find your way home.
When we hear these words of Scripture from Joel, what we hear is a wake up call. Joel says to the people of Israel on behalf of God:
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming it is near — (Joel 2:1).
It’s appropriate that we come together on a rainy evening to observe Ash Wednesday, because it casts a dark shadow over our lives. It marks us with a sign of death, grief, and repentance. It’s a call for change and transformation. This journey of transformation and change continues on through Good Friday to the glories of Easter Sunday. We get to enjoy Easter Sunday, but we have a difficult journey ahead.
This is a time of reflection and repentance. Like Jesus, we will be tested in the deserts of our lives, and as we face these tests we are forced to look inward, and as we do, we again hear Joel’s wake up call.
Yet even now return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and
with mourning; rend your hearts not your clothing (Joel 2:12-13a).
February 25, 2009