Author: Harrison Davis
Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17
Reflection: v.1, ‘the day of the Lord is coming’
Is it hopeful when the day of the Lord approaches? A day of darkness and gloom, Joel says, with a great and powerful army spreading like a shadow on the horizon? Strangely, when I read these words, my heart throbs with longing. The pandemic has been hard—very hard. For me, the hardest has been the sacrifice of community. I still see human faces, but they are now mostly filtered through a computer screen. I have grown used to hearing the human voice filtered and diminished through an electronic speaker, the words at odds with the stuttering, glitchy movements of a mouth straining to reach me through often shaky internet connections. When I worked at Mercy, my life was saturated with the bodies of humans. The sounds, smells, and heat of human bodies enveloped me like a warm blanket. Few times in my life have I felt as loved, felt as close to community and belonging. In a recent conversation, Pastor Chad called this incarnational love. Boy, I never knew how much I’d miss it until it was gone. Sometimes, the pandemic has been even unbearably hard. Pain, suffering, and death have marched in our midst like an army. But what breaks my heart is the numbness. In the fear of the virus, we must distance ourselves, deprive ourselves of intimate contact with beloved brothers and sisters. Death and suffering are presented as a number, steadily increasing each day. Instead of love, my heart has made room for anxiety and fear—fear that says the only thing we can do is hide from the holy faces of others. This is the moment that the day of the Lord is most needed. In the doom of an army at our doorstep, God calls us to reject numbness. God calls for weeping, mourning, and fasting. In a solemn assembly, God calls us to gather to mourn all that has been lost: community, fellowship, loved ones, the countless lives taken by racism, genderism, sexism, economic injustice, and the many pandemics and deaths that beset our doors. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ God is there—in our tears, yes, but in our hope too.
Prayer Be present to us, O tender Creator, in our pain and in our hope.