Lent: A Time of Turning
Ash Wednesday is the day that begins our Lenten observance as the people of God. Lent is a time to remember and receive. We remember the suffering and death of Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and we receive the assurance of God’s grace and favor and our salvation as a result of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for us and the world.
The traditional Old Testament Reading for Ash Wednesday is etched in Joel 2 (vs 1-2, 12-17). I encourage you to read all of Chapter 2.
Joel receives a Word of the Lord to sound the “ram’s horn” that the people might assemble before the Lord. It is a time of alarm for the people of God and God speaks through the prophet Joel.
It is a time for the people to act swiftly. All of the people (vs 16), without exception, are called to return to the Lord with fasting with weeping and with mourning. It is a time of tearful turning. The people are summoned to turn with tears and with all their hearts and plead for God’s mercy and pardon. The priests are called upon to stand between the sinfulness and brokenness and great need of the people and the holy God with pleas of intercession (vs 17). The Lord hears the intercessions of the people and assures them of His provision, favor and care.
The prophet Joel called the nation to a time of turning. It was a time to turn away from a life of sin and brokenness and turn toward a life with God and blessing.
Lent is turning to God. Some say “returning to God”. Lent is a reminder that God in Christ Jesus has turned His face toward us, so that we would turn to Him in repentance, faith and love.
If God were only a God of wrath we would only turn away in fear and dread.
But God “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relents from sending calamity” (vs 13).
It is this diving grace, mercy and love that compels us to turn to God to live out God’s grace, mercy and love and extend it to others.
May God bless our turning!
As Jesus is the Way, may our complete trust be in Him alone!
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2: 32)
In the service of Jesus,