Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 (NRSV)
Chapter 2Blow 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- Verse 2a 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.
Verse 12Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; Verse 13rend 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. Verse 14Who 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? Verse 15Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; Verse 16gather 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. Verse 17Between 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?'"
“Blow the trumpet…gather the people.” The prophet Joel sounds the alarm of the coming day of the Lord. We have come to the time of the church year when the “Alleluias” are put away as we prepare for Ash Wednesday. The Lenten response from today’s passage is a call to repentance: “Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” We live in the midst of a troubled world and the call of the prophet Joel is just as relevant for us today. We gather as God’s people and hear the good news of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. How are you preparing for this Lenten Season?
Gracious God, help us hear the call to repentance and empower us to reach out to others with the good news that you are abounding in steadfast love. Amen.