flame-cross

Rural Matters

Some thoughts for Ash Wednesday

flame-cross
Rural
Matters

Joel Chapter 2. verses 1 – 2 and 12 – 17


Sermons
index

1: Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
2: a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.

12: “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13: Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14: Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.

15: Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16: Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
17: Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Some thoughts on the text:-

The present situation

As the People of God and His witnesses in the world, it is good occasionally to take stock!
The following things come to mind -
The world at the present moment in time is seemingly in a state of chaos!
After the abortive “Arab Spring” many of the nation states are seemingly ungovernable.
The old enmity between Russia and Nato has resurfaced in Syria (and the Ukraine).
The European Union is under great pressure, and most of the constituent nations are taking things into their own hands. Freedom of movement is restricted and law enforcement is becoming more authoritarian due to perceived threats from terrorism.
Many of the “traditional” churches are divided over same sex marriage and other issues of sexuality.
While much good work is done by different groups like “Street Pastors” and “Foodbanks” there is no clear moral lead given by the church leadership.

When did you last hear a sermon / address on “Holiness”?

Today's Text

The book of Joel was written when the spiritual life of the people of God was at a low ebb.
Two dates are suggested by scholars, either 830 B.C. or 400 B.C. However, the portion appointed for Ash Wednesday is rightly a call to repentance and renewal: just as desperately needed now as it was then.
The call to “return to the Lord, your God” (verse 13) is a call to the whole congregation.
There are no exceptions, no one is exempt! The whole people of God is called to repentance, even an impending marriage ceremony is no excuse!
When did your church (or mine!) last come before the Lord God in unanimity to repent of the sins of the people and nation?

The crunch point!

Maybe the obedience of the church leaders will be key in making this call to repentance a reality:-
Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
(verse 17)

The “priests”, “pastors”, “elders”, whatever you call your church leadership, has the prime responsibility. To lead! Not just in things where there may be a “feel good factor” but in the spiritual life of the People of God.

Pray for them this Lent, that the leadership of the churches may be “Holy unto the Lord” (Exodus 28, verses 36 – 38)


Seasonal
Worship

©TWB Rural Matters 2016
Sermons
index