It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rend Your Hearts, Reflection on Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

As we begin Lent, we read this message (warning?) from Joel: Sound the alarm. The day of the Lord is coming, a day of darkness and gloom. (Read Joel 1:1-2:11).

Yet, even in the face of our deserved judgment, the Lord continues to beckon, "Return to me."

As Christians travel through Lent, let us heed Joel's reminder: Rend your hearts and not your clothing. What do we need to give up (or to take up) that is our way of fasting, weeping, and mourning?

Keep reading.

In verse 13, we see the familiar doxology of God's mercy (Exodus 34:5-7).

Again, Joel says, "Sound the alarm," and adds:
Sanctify a fast.
Call a solemn assembly.
Gather the whole congregation including the old people and the very young.

In verse 17, he reminds us that our lives demonstrate what we really believe about God. There's an old cliche' that your life is a sermon that you are preaching everyday. What if it is true?

On the UMC Worship, site, Daniel Benedict has suggested several excellent Lenten Practices. For example:
___Spend time in solitude each day.

___ Read a book for inner growth.

___ Read twice through the Gospel of the lectionary cycle you are in. (Mark in 2009).

___ Begin to keep a journal of prayer concerns, questions, reading.

___ Focus on thanksgiving, rather than on asking, in prayer.

___ Give myself a gift of three hours to do something you always say you don't have time to do.

___ Give up a grudge or a rehearsal of a past event.

___ Forgive someone who has hurt me.

___ Plan to visit a "shut-in" neighbor or church member weekly.

___ Write a letter of affirmation once a week to a person who has touched my life.

Go to his list to see other suggestions that may fit your life.

Lectio Divina: Joel 2:12-13.
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.

Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.

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