Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2 Reflection:
The first reading today is one of those fire and brimstone readings we get from the Old Testament and you would think that they were designed to scare the wits out of us. Joel calls on the priests to put on sackcloth and lament and on the ministers of the altar to wail... “For the house of the Lord has been deprived of oblation and libation.”
What Joel is saying is that sacrifice and ritual are not being carried out anywhere in the land; the faith of Israel is in an awful mess.
When we look at the church today we tend to panic. We shouldn't. This is the way it has always been. The church has always been under attack and the attackers appear to be winning, but they can never quite do away with all the believers.
Joel calls on the leaders to ‘order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly...for the Lord our God is near.’
We make the mistake of trying to apply these words to the church of today. Perhaps we are reading them wrong.
The feeling that God is near is a feeling we have all the time. The feeling that things are wrong is also a feeling we have all the time.
God is near; that is the nature of God. He is around, underneath and above us. He is close at hand. That is the great gift to us who believe and the great fear of those who don’t.
And we also know in our hearts that things are wrong. There are parts of our lives that are sinful in the eyes of God and we know in our hearts that we are going to have to answer for these.
That causes the feeling of dread that we all carry all the time. If we have our lives in order, that feeling of dread shall simply fade away.
Then we can read Joel and not be frightened.