February 24

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

“rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” vs. 13

Israel had been invaded by a plague of locusts and the prophet Joel believed that relief would come only if the people turned back to God and repented of their sinful ways. Most of us probably don’t connect such devastating natural disasters with sin but on both national and global levels there are a multitude of injustices that merit our combined attention and repentance. We’ve put future generations at risk with our unbridled greed and callous disregard for the environment. The millions of refugees fleeing their homes and countries are a testimony to our love of war and careless use of destructive weapons. We aren’t living as faithful stewards of creation and we certainly aren’t loving our neighbors as ourselves. Modern prophets are correct in calling humanity to repentance and change. In the church it has become our tradition to set aside times of the year for a focus on such practices, not just as an exercise in confession, but that we might actually change and be a force for good. Joel reminds us that such repentance is more an internal exercise than external. In just a couple of days we will begin the season of Lent and we’ll have an opportunity for some heart-rending soul-searching. It’s our chance to return to God, the source of grace, mercy, and steadfast love, and the world is bound to be blessed.

Thought for the Day: What is a heart-rending behavior?

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