February 2018

February 2018
"Even now ... return to me with all your heart"
Joel 2.12 (NIV)

About Joel we know virtually nothing, except that his name means 'God is the Lord'. In his short book generally, Joel himself as the prophet is far in the background - he puts God and the Day of the Lord in centre place in his text.

The coming Day of the Lord is a great day when God will show himself to the people, creating a sense of fear and awe.

This is a good saying to take into the beginning of Lent.

God calls to each one of us - not harshly or with a biting edge to his words - not in judgement or with the threat of punishment in his tone. He calls us, warmly, with love, compassion and generosity to return to him.

If we are to return, where have we been? Rushing this way and that to get things done? Anxiously trying to sort out a problem that honestly hardly exists? Deceiving ourselves that we don't really need to return? Imagining that we are 'all right' with God because ...? Where have we been? Have we been avoiding any real encounter with God himself, avoiding listening to him, avoiding facing him with the realities of our lives?

Remind yourself of the Parable of the Prodigal Son - read it over in Luke 15. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the prodigal son - go through the same experiences - and then return ... Feel the loving arms of the Father around your shoulders.

So, as Lent begins, we can spend some time in this act of 'returning'. Repentance is a strong word but it is the word we need to use. It includes saying that we are sorry. But that is not enough. It also involves determining that we are going to do things differently. We are going to change our lives in some way, large or small. We are going to deepen our faith, extend our understanding of the love that Jesus showed us in his life and death and resurrection.
And this 'returning' means going back to the source of everything, to the God of compassion and mercy, to the creator of the whole universe. To meet with him - to allow him to forgive us and to give us the experience of an encounter with him.

'With all your heart' means with everything - no half measures, no lip service, no ifs and buts ... Even now return to me with all your heart