Joel 2: 12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:20; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
“Even now, return to me with your whole heart,
reveal the inner most thoughts of your heart and return to me…”
These are the whispered words of a lover with a deep and longing ache in their heart.
Genuine friendship can be a source of great pain.
A hoped for friendship that didn’t quite develop and mature.
“lay bare your heart and return to me…”
In our insecurities we hesitate; are too cautious –
a budding friendship slips from our hands.
“cease protecting your heart and return to me…”
A friendship which began with great expectations that gradually – or not – faded.
“tear open your heart and return to me…”
In our search for affection and affirmation we misstep and are in turn misunderstood.
“expose your heart and return to me…”
The aching heart of the lover continues to speak and to invite.
The ashes speak a sadness – a sadness of regret, of missed opportunities, of unrequited love. “To love anyone is to realize that they might be lost to us.”* Is this not the fear and ache of God; the fear of losing us?
The ashes speak of regret. Is it our regret for not opening our hearts to friendship with God or God’s regret over our fears that keep us from God?
The ashes speak of missed opportunities. Is it our memory of missed opportunities to have done good or God’s ache of watching our squandered openings to new life?
The ashes speak of unreturned love…this is the deepest heart ache of all for God and us.
How will you and I respond?
*A paraphrase of G. K. Chesterton