The Approaching Disaster

2022-03-02 – Year C – Ash Wednesday – The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 103:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:20—6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

An Army Rising Up

  • Joel 2:1 – “the ancient equivalent of the modern air raid siren.”
  • In the verses that follow we see the coming army of “a great and powerful people” (v. 2). And we see the people of Israel fleeing for safety (v. 3).
  • As we read these verse today, I can’t help but think of what is going on in Ukraine.
    • “More than 800,000 civilians have fled Ukraine, according to the UN. The European Union (EU) estimates that up to four million people may try to leave the country because of the Russian invasion.”
    • “Sunday afternoon, an unmoving line of cars, buses and trucks stretched for 35 km (22 miles) from the border crossing at Shehyni, all packed with people and belongings, all waiting their turn to squeeze through the overburdened border checkpoint to Poland…”Last night we moved 100 metres,” said Anastasia Dymtruk, 31, who had slept in her car for three nights along with her friend’s family, who she was ferrying to safety.”
  • This comparison breaks down, however, the coming invasion for Israel is God’s judgment. I’m not suggesting the Ukraine is facing the judgement of God.
    • The Day of the Lord (v. 2). This disaster is coming because of Israel’s sin.

Fleeing From God

  • Adam hiding in the Garden – Genesis 3:8
    • Shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear.
    • Running from God is futile, like running away from your shadow.
  • Psalm 139:7-8 Fleeing from God
    • vv. 9-10 – God is coming after us, but not primarily to punish us. The Lord want us to repent and return.

Repent: Turn and Return

  • Joel 2:12-13a – “with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning”
    • These are important outward signs, but don’t forget to rend your hearts.
      • “Ritual repentance, however fervently carried out, is of no use if the heart is unchanged.”
  • When we turn to face God in repentance instead of running away from him, we will find him welcoming us in an embrace – Joel 2:13b

Conclusion

  • Today is an opportunity to acknowledge our sin. The ashes are an outward sign of the inward condition of our hearts.
    • The ashes are followed by Psalm 51 and the Litany of penitence.
    • Pay close attention to the words of the litany and look for the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
    • Finally, confess your sins, rend your hearts, and find the mercy of God.

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