Ash Wednesday, February 10

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

1 Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
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;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.

17 Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Lent demands confronting your intimate, personal role in the infliction of wounds.

What’s your default?  I’ve found it easier to stay numb, ignore the grief of others, and one’s own.

The good news about the season joined today is that it is a contest.  Lent is a struggle to reorient our attention and repent our sins.

Anglicanism recognizes the agonistic seasonal character and has done so straight out of the chute. According to the 1549 Prayer Book, now is the time to reconnect with sin’s consequences and “be called to earnest and true repentance, and walk more warily in these dangerous days, fleeing from such vices” as wither our souls.

We can turn aside from the challenge to find freshness and hope in our common life in Christ.

Or we can recognize that change of heart is urgent, a thing to not put off.  “Even now,” says our Lord, “return to me with your whole heart.”

O God, you have made us for yourself, and against your longing there is no defense.  Mark us with your love, and release in us a passion for your justice in our disfigured world; that we may turn from our guilt and face you, our heart’s desire.  Amen.

–Janet Morley


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