Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for Ash Wednesday - 26 February 2020
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.
* Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17
Ring the alarm bells on the holy mountain.
Sound the sirens for the whole city to hear!
Put the fear of God into everybody,
for the day when the LORD will step in is near –
a dark and menacing day,
a day of fierce heat and dark choking clouds!
Like a raging bushfire sweeping down the mountain,
a terrifying army comes.
Wave upon wave,
it leaves nothing but scorched earth in its path.
It is more terrifying than anything ever seen before,
or anything ever likely to be seen again.
But even now, at the eleventh hour,
the LORD calls to us saying:
“It is not too late!
Get back on track with me.
Show me you mean it with your whole hearts.
Go off your food and get on your knees.
Weep and mourn from the depths of your hearts,
and don’t try to con me
with crocodile tears and cheap black arm bands.
“Come back to me, the LORD your God,
for I am compassionate and generous,
as eager to forgive as any mother.
My love and loyalty always hold back my anger.
Given half a reason I’ll withhold sentence
and give everybody a second chance.
“What have you got to lose by trying?
Perhaps you can convince me to change my mind.
Perhaps I’ll even send good times instead of disaster
and you’ll be eating and drinking in my honour.
“Ring the alarm bells on my holy mountain.
Declare a day of national repentance.
Rally the people, every one of them.
Get them together to pray and fast.
Make sure everyone has prepared themselves properly,
and make sure no one is missing.
Bring the aged and infirm,
the toddlers and the newborn.
Call back the newlyweds from honeymoons
and cancel all leave.
“In the heart of the place of worship
let those who lead you in prayer do so with tears.
Let them cry out to me, the LORD your God,
and beg me to have mercy on you.
Let them plead with me not to make you a laughingstock,
a classic example of a failed nation.
“For why should the rest of the world scoff
and conclude that your downfall is my failure?”
“At exactly the right moment,Well, this is it — the exact right moment. This is the day to throw off the shackles and walk free! It won’t be our fault if you don’t take this chance — we’re doing everything in our power not to get in anyone’s way. There’s no point in nit-picking over the details of our work. We have endeavoured to be faithful servants of God and we’re confident that we’ve got the runs on the board. It’s not as though we’ve had it easy either. We have hung in there through hard times, tough times and horrendous disasters. We’ve been bashed, lynched and locked up. We’ve worked ourselves into the ground when things needed to be done, sometimes even going without sleep and food. And through all this we have maintained our integrity — our intentions have been pure and our heads have been clear. We have managed to hold on to our patience, generosity, and holiness of spirit. Our love has been genuine, our speech truthful, and God has continued to work powerfully through us. We have armed ourselves with nothing but an iron commitment to doing what’s right, and we’ve grasped the work of justice with both hands. Sometimes we’ve been honoured and sometimes slandered. We have been true to our word and yet denounced as charlatans. We’ve been treated as nobodies even though everyone knows who we are. We’ve been written of as dead, but here we are, brimming with life. We’ve been flogged to within an inch of our lives but never quite killed. We’ve almost drowned in tears and yet we are still bubbling with joy. They say we are poor, and yet many are enriched by us. They say we have nothing to offer, and yet everything is ours to share.
........I heard your call.
The day you needed help,
........I was there to bail you out.”