Lesson 4: March 26, 2017
God’s Love Restores: Joel 2:12-32
Teaching Strategy: Explore one or more of the contemporary efforts to restore broken relationships and bring about the reconciliation made possible in Jesus Christ. What is the role of repentance in the process? The role of forgiveness? How might the model of God’s love for God’s people inform and inspire reconciliation in our relationships with one another and with God? What is the role of the church in healing broken relationships – within the church and beyond?
In the 2nd chapter of Joel, the prophet describes the coming of the Day of the Lord, a time of judgment filled with darkness, gloom, fires that devour, earthquakes, heavens that tremble, and profound human anguish. This terrible image is followed by a powerful call to repentance and an astonishing reminder of God’s willingness to forgive. “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.” (vs. 12-13). The call to Israel/Judah to “return” and the promise of God’s steadfast love are repeated throughout the Old Testament. They are given new meaning in the familiar words of the New Testament, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17). God has never given up trying to reconcile the world. What might God’s persistence teach us about our own call to seek reconciliation – among ourselves and with God? The following examples of contemporary efforts at reconciliation may facilitate your discussion and/or point you toward other efforts closer to home or more familiar to your participants.
- This edition of Usable Knowledge: Connecting Research to Practice (Harvard School of Education) brings together a variety of resources in One and All: Strategies to Protect Students, Reject Bullying, and Build Communities Where Everyone Thrives
- In an interview with Christianity Today Latasha Morrison, founder of Be The Bridge, describes this ministry and argues that “the Church is the ‘only place equipped to do racial reconciliation well’.”
- The mission of The Centre for Restorative Justice “is to develop and promote restorative justice in criminal justice systems around the world…Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime. [T]he results can be transformational.”
- The United Church of Christ national leaders and the Pacific Northwest Conference are inviting the wider church to get involved in Building Bridges: Linking Our Muslim and Christian Communities