“Sin in haste; repent at leisure” is a common theme in our Old Testament history. Things are going so well; then because of thoughtlessness, greed, envy, complacency, stupidity, or any manner of other poor behavior, it all falls apart.
The people of Israel were called to be a holy people, those in a coveted position of favor and love with the supreme God. Ever since Creation, humankind has been heir to this relationship. All we have to do is cooperate! Then we expect life to be good.
But when we don’t cooperate, things are not so good, even downright awful. Joel begins with the lament by God that the people have caused the ruin of the country. He calls them to repent, put on sackcloth, lament, fast, and worship. How many times had they been in this position? Why could they not learn from God’s teaching and guidance? All, it seems certain, is lost.
Does any of this feel familiar? Has poor judgment ever cost you a promotion (or a job)? Selfishness or thoughtlessness cost you a special relationship? Worship of money, position, or power cost you the ability to see the blessings and beauty of the smaller things in life? Is all lost?
Joel tells us NO! He reminds us to rejoice and be glad, for the Lord does great things! We have tremendous spiritual power as the heirs of Israel and as the body of Christ. It’s never too late to turn toward God. Joel’s images of refreshing rain, full harvests, food aplenty assure us that God has abundant blessings awaiting us when we turn again to the One who has ultimate power. Then we “shall know that [God] is in [our] midst” and just as importantly, that God’s “people shall never again be put to shame.”
Gracious God, help me to be in right relationship with you, the source of all great power and all good things, and to give you my endless thanksgiving and praise. Amen.
At this point in Job’s story, God has heard questions from Job and long-winded moralizing by three of Job’s friends, who have pronounced that his misfortunes are divine judgment. Now God has heard enough and declares that God’s perspective is superior to theirs. God has been there from the beginning, as the psalmist reiterates, so no one should claim to know God’s mind or speak on God’s behalf. Even Jesus, the divine Son of God, yields to his heavenly Father. Hebrews tells us that Jesus made appeals to God as the ultimate high priest and thereby became the source of salvation for those who obey him. In the Gospel reading, Jesus specifies that his approaching act of submission and service will allow him to become a ransom for us.
Read Job 38:1-7, 34-41. How do you continue to hold on to belief in God’s goodness when you are in a period of anguish?
Read Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c. How do you share in the creativity of God?
Read Hebrews 5:1-10. In what ways does the understanding of Jesus’ willing vulnerability while serving as high priest affect the way you interact with others?
Read Mark 10:35-45. Where do you see genuine examples of servant leadership in your community?
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