joel 2:12-17 & matthew 6:16-21
i have been thinking a lot about letting go - about what i am letting go of as my fiancé and i walk toward marriage. a few weeks ago a trusted friend suggested that perhaps i wasn't observing the loss of my singleness. that stopped me. i think i spent my whole life wanting to be married. i prayed and prayed for god to bring me a godly man. i prayed and prayed for that godly man. and now, the godly man has arrived! but i am most comfortable with single-brie. i am most at home with her. i've known single-brie my whole life. and because i had prayed for a husband, because i had wanted this (wonderful!) thing so badly, it seemed wrong to say - but wait, i'm not sure that all of this is comfortable. but, it isn't all comfortable. and it's not meant to be.
if marriage is for our holiness, not our happiness, then this process of sanctification is, as with all processes of sanctification, going to involve some discomfort.
i am learning to let go of my singleness, my independence, my 'complete control' of my daily life. i am learning to bend my will to my beloved's. i am learning to mark those times when i realise i'm saying 'goodbye' to old ways. i'm learning it doesn't all happen overnight. i'm grateful for a fiancé who is gracious enough to pause with me when it all feels very fast.
the reading for today comes from joel. in joel 2:15-17 we read that the entire community needs to be present for the community's sins to be forgiven.
15-17 Blow the ram's horn trumpet in Zion!
Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day.
Call a public meeting.
Get everyone there. Consecrate the congregation.
Make sure the elders come,
but bring in the children, too, even the nursing babies,
Even men and women on their honeymoon—
interrupt them and get them there.
Between Sanctuary entrance and altar,
let the priests, God's servants, weep tears of repentance.
Let them intercede: "Have mercy, God, on your people!
Don't abandon your heritage to contempt.
Don't let the pagans take over and rule them
and sneer, 'And so where is this God of theirs?'" (Joel 2:16, The Message)
i was wondering what this was saying - why were a newly-married couple included specifically in this list? a little research reminded me that according to jewish custom, after the wedding the bride and groom spent seven days apart from the community in a special room that the bridegroom prepared for their honeymoon. i began to reflect on what this implies: firstly, that during moments of great difficulty, like the one described in joel, the whole community is to be present - no one gets to opt-out. but secondly, i think it's a reminder to the newly-weds of the importance of community. so often i have seen newly-weds withdraw from the community, because they now have each other. it's a reminder that we are still part of a community, that we are required to show up and be present. that actually, we are not allowed to opt out.
this piece of the passage, in a strange way has brought some peace to my soul about 'letting go' my singleness - that while i will no longer be single-brie, i will still have so much of what single-brie has - and at the top of this list is the community that we are so blessed to live with.
holy god - as we prepare for easter, for the deep sorrow of good friday, the confusion of holy saturday and the joy of a risen king on easter sunday, please prepare our hearts. lord, i pray that you will bless all reading this, that there will be sanctification, and that as we enter these dark days of lent we can also look with hopful expectation to the life we have reborn in a risen christ. amen.