Scripture: Joel 2: 12-19
Key verses: (12-13a) “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.”
Reflection: One of the gifts of the COVID pandemic is the time we have been given because our regular schedules have been disrupted. Some of us have filled up this time with more work. Some of us have found we have more time to exercise, read a book, connect with others or simply rest because we aren’t commuting or travelling. For others this disruption has created more space for spiritual issues to emerge. And yet we still have many things that distract us from faith. Even though early in the pandemic many people filled up their days learning new skills or starting new projects, some couldn’t stop working and from dawn to dusk they worked and worked and worked to the point of exhaustion. It became apparent six months into the restrictions that there were some unaddressed issues. All of us have had an opportunity to discover where we are in relationship to God. In today’s text, the people of Judah were in a desperate situation. There was plague and drought. The prophet Joel attributed this destruction to their unfaithfulness. They had turned away from God. Of course, we know that there are scientific reasons why there are natural disasters. Things like poor farming practices, mining, building too close to the ocean and climate change, are some of the things that contribute to devastation. We no longer believe that these events are caused by God’s withdrawal from a people or a nation. They are caused by human activity. We do understand how people lose their way and cause destruction in their lives and in the lives of others. And, yet in the midst of all this, God is generous. No matter how far away we travel from the LORD; the LORD is ready to give us a second chance. We are given the opportunity to turn our lives around because it is never too late to return to God. We are invited to return to the LORD at the start of every day – to return to the One who is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. In spite of our human failings, God calls us to return. God is willing to give restoration. Are you willing to receive it? What might happen if you humble yourself and submit to this gracious love? Is God calling you to “return to the LORD with all you heart”? What will your response be?
Prayer: Loving God, we think we know what we want, but too often we delude ourselves. Forgive our pride and self-determination when it gets in the way of submitting to you. Forgive our sins that have hurt us and hurt another person. Help us amend our ways. Take our desire to change and restore us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].