Sometimes we make such a mess of life that the only recourse is a cry for help—for someone to rescue us from the depths of despair or from our own worst actions. This week’s readings carry the theme of rescue and restore. The prophet Joel proclaims God’s message to the people of Israel that God, despite the people’s disobedience, wants to restore the covenant. In Psalm 65 we read how God rescues the people from drought and famine, restoring barren fields into green pasture. In Second Timothy, Paul recounts that his friends deserted him in his time of trial, but he was “rescued from the lion’s mouth” by the God who gave him strength. The Gospel of Luke tells a parable of Jesus concerning repentance. Our sin often leads to trouble. Confession of sin redirects us to restoration.
I know I have needed God and my fellow Christians when, through poor decisions and foolish behavior, I have found myself alone and despondent. I have learned that an important first step is to take an honest look at myself, confess my faults to God, and apologize to those I have hurt through word and deed.
The prophet Joel tells people that the “day of the LORD” is near—“a day of darkness and no light” (Joel 2:2a, CEB). People will shake with fear. Yet Joel announces God’s invitation to change our hearts so that we can be rescued from the depths of fear and restored to life and to a right relationship with God.
Through Joel, God invites us to tear our hearts and not our clothing and to return to the Lord (see Joel 2:13). He announces to the people, “Rejoice and be glad in the Lord your God.”
God of love and grace, rescue us from despair, and bring us into a new and full relationship with you and our neighbors. Amen.
The theme in the readings from the Hebrew scriptures is “abundance.” Joel speaks of the time of plenty in the land of Israel. This abundance is not only physical, for it includes a generous outpouring of the Spirit of God. The psalmist sings of abundant rain that allows the land to flourish. The hills, meadows, and valleys all sing praise to God. Second Timothy 4 contains the scriptural passage that brings us closest to the death of Paul. The apostle has been abandoned by many, but the Lord stands by him as he faces his likely imminent death. In the Gospel, Jesus warns us about the dangers of pride. The Pharisee in the parable thinks his personal goodness brings favor with God, but God desires a humble heart.
Read Joel 2:23-32. How has rain been a sign of God’s impending provision in your life?
Read Psalm 65. How has God’s forgiveness freed you to participate in creation’s joy?
Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. When has God strengthened you in the face of evil?
Read Luke 18:9-14. What aspect of your life do you need to approach with renewed humility?
Respond by posting a prayer.