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It seems strange to say that today is a day that people long for – make themselves ready for even – when the Scriptures are full of commands. Listen:

*Blow a trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly. Gather the people, notify the congregation; assemble the elders, gather the children…” (Joel 2)

* A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me… Give me back the joy of your salvation and a willing spirit sustain in me…(PS 51)

* Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation! (2 Cor 5)

Taking each of those statements at a time – one after the other – from today’s lectionary readings – should bring us to a place of longing…an interior “heart space” where we can hear God say to us, “Even now, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness…even now.”

It’s as if we’re being given a “Get-out-of-jail-free” card…as if we’ve won the lottery and all is forgotten…as if we a as clean as new-fallen snow and innocent of all our faults and poor choices – sins even of the most grievous kind…because our God is a God like no other, the one who forgives, and forgives, and forgives again.

Today we start over, as if we were just born. What will you do with this gift? How will you spend these 40 days of Lent? Are you up to the challenge of Divine Love?