Wednesday, February 13
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the 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 spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 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?
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples,“Where is their God?” (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17)
Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. It is the time that many Christians contemplate their transgressions, fast, and repent. In Joel we see that the trumpet is blown and there is the sound of an alarm. Darkness, gloom, and black clouds are coming. We are encouraged to return to the Lord with all of our heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Joel tells us that the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity. He will send a blessing. Joel asks that all ages of people convene leaving no one out, not even children, elders, bridegrooms, or brides. All are to repent and return to the Lord.
We have each gone through tough times. I have always felt that I was very lucky. My health is good, I have a loving family, and things usually work out well for me. My darkest times were in the years 2005- early 2008. I lost two sisters, my brother, and two aunts in a period of eight months in 2005. I was devastated and survived by suppressing emotions, doing what needed to be done, being supported by friends and trusting God that things would get better. In the next eighteen months I also lost my husband, a 2 month old great grandchild, and my mother. It is still hard for me to bring up memories of that time and of those I lost.
There were blessings during that dark time but the biggest blessing came about a year and a half later when I met my husband to be, Bob! Each year during Lent, I do remember the dark times and know that blessings also follow them.
-Submitted by Ruth Jenkins-McIntire