Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Joel 3:1--4:11
v. 2b For I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.

As we begin Lent, we are reminded of the nature of the God we seek to know more deeply. It is an image that runs counter to our gut instinct, i.e., the God who is angry with us.

The Bible knows this angry God and witnesses that we are quite deserving of this anger. But the Bible also witnesses to the God who "relents," who is capable of changing his mind (see Jonah 3:10). This is good news indeed, except that it applies not only to us, but to those who have done us wrong as well. Jonah is an unhappy prophet because God has changed his mind about one of Israel's great enemies and threats, the Assyrian Empire, among whose great cities was Ninevah.

We think of Lent as a time of repentance, and surely it is that. It is not, however, just about our repentance. To make a relationship it takes two. Part of our Lenten journey is to go more deeply into relationship with the God who himself repents. We turn to God and God turns to us and the result is the new life we will celebrate at Easter.

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