Where is Your God? Thoughts for Ash Wednesday
We begin the Lenten journey once more. There are a number of biblical texts laid out for us by the creators of the Lectionary. Among them is this reading from Joel 2. The closing phrase raises a question for God. Why should the world ask us "Where is your God?" The prophet had called for a gathering of the people to hold a holy fast. "Blow the trumpet" he shouts on behalf of God. It is a call to repentance. Let everyone come from the youngest to the oldest and seek God's forgiveness, that the congregation might be sanctified.
I pick up on that last statement -- "Where is your God?" -- because it seems so apropos for our day. The world asks of us -- where is your God? They are wondering what we're up to? Are we merely a social club? We live in a largely demythologized world. The sacred is suspect. We can't just depend on culture to undergird the religious community. It doesn't matter how loud we shout, if there is no evidence of the Spirit in our lives, then our religious protestations will fall on deaf ears.
I think that's what Joel is saying. Return to the Lord. Repent, that is, turn around, and come back to me, for I am gracious and merciful. We can mark ourselves with ashes, but there is need for more. Repentance requires a change of life. So we gather, seeking to inhabit our confession, so we might live as ones who have been reconciled to God and to God's people. For, why should the people wonder "Where is your God?"