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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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Ash Wednesday

While I am privileged to play a baritone horn in the band, I know from proximity the shiver a trumpet blast can send. The prophet Joel elicits a trumpet sound that could easily have sent shivers up the spine of his hearers. It is an announcement of darkness and gloom, fitting themes for Ash Wednesday and for much of the season that follows.

In the second part of this text, though, the prophet calls for another trumpet sound. This one appears to play in a slightly different key. The clouds of gloom lift a bit, and a call goes forth for repentance. That is, wayward children are called to change their ways, to return to the Lord. In the midst of uncertainty, there is a word of hope for the solemn assembly.

As a result of the two trumpet calls, we can discern and hopefully heed the discipline of Lent: Prayer, fasting, repentance—a time for reflection. Listen! The trumpet is sounding.

Merciful God, accompany our journey through these 40 days and renew us. Open our ears to hear the sound of the trumpet, which calls us to be faithful and obedient. Amen.

Robert Brusic
Luther Seminary Pastor Emeritus

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 (NRSV)

1 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--

2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.

12 Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

13 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.

14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain-offering and a drink-offering for the Lord, your God?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;

16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.

17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, 'Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, "Where is their God?" '

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.