Thursday, December 8, 2016


Daily reading: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Thursday December 8, 2016

Focus passage: 12 Yet even now, says the Lord,
    return to me with all your hearts,
        with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow;
13 tear your hearts
        and not your clothing.
    Return to the Lord your God,
        for he is merciful and compassionate,
        very patient, full of faithful love,
            and ready to forgive. Joel 2:12-13

Joel reminds us that we don’t make Christmas happen. No, we accept the invitation to return to God, not just with a singular motion, not with a promise that soon will be forgotten and did not become part of the fabric of our faithfulness.  No, we accept the invitation knowing that it will forever change us.

“Tear your hearts and not your clothing, return to the Lord,” Joel pleads.
Back in the day when someone had sinned they would tear their clothing.  Clothing was a highly valuable possession in the Ancient Near Eastern world.   It would take months to make a garment.  Only the very wealthy would have multiple cloaks.  So it was a big deal to rip your clothing to outwardly display to the world your level of regret and remorse in such a costly way.

Joel calls us to open our hearts, to rend or tear them so that they are radically changed.  The invitation is to bring your entire self before God:  Even the small part that still believes that you can make Christmas happen.  Bring it all, your grief, your sense of lose, your fasting and religious strivings, your longings, your moments of turning away from God and placing something or someone else above God, bring it all before God:  Because if you only bring a part, you cannot fully return to God.  God desires a complete devotion of our will.

Prayer: God, help me to fully return to you.  I open myself to join in your dream for shalom peace within myself and for my community and world.  Amen.

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