Ash Wednesday, Wednesday, March 9

Wednesday, March 9

Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain-offering and a drink-offering
for the Lord, your God?

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 (excerpt)

Fabric usually tears, is rent where there is a flaw or cut in the weaving. But, with a little patience and diligence, frayed and tattered edges can be brought back together. The pieces can be realigned and stitched back together with a resolute hand and a loving touch. And then they can become a miraculous new creation.

As we enter Lent, through the words of the prophet Joel, the Lord challenges us to rend our hearts. It is a task that takes courage for the Lord is asking us to expose the flaws of our hearts and even pull at them a bit so that they are laid bare and open to ourselves and to God. The Lord is asking us to engage in a process of mourning—one where we grieve because we have faced the difficult truth that we could have done better. But, that is not the end, for the Lord also calls to us saying, “return to me with all your heart.” God wants to take the ragged pieces of our hearts, even the ragged pieces of our lives, and sew them together into something new and miraculous. God is ready to forego punishment in favor of moving us toward wholeness.

Such is the journey to which we are all being called during this Lenten season. Let us open our hearts; let us tug a little and come to terms with the ragged edges; and let us take it all to the Lord, who stands ready to greet us with grace, mercy, and steadfast love.

God of torn pieces and beautiful quilts, help us to be honest with ourselves and with you during this Lenten season. Help us to lay open our ragged and frayed edges so that we can be ready for the new things you want to do in our hearts and our lives.

Kendra Grams (M.Div., Class of 2009) is the Associate for Spiritual Development for Youth and Children at Potomac Presbyterian Church in Potomac, Md.