Deborah Beach Giordano
© March 2, 2012
Rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Turn back to God, who is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from planned disasters.
~ Joel 2:13
When has anyone shred his clothes — for any reason? Never, not in my lifetime.
The ancient Israelites tore their garments when in the throes of great grief or unspeakable terror. It was a sign of repentance; a recognition of impending doom, and an acknowledgement that they were complicit in what was happening.
By shredding their clothing they were admitting that they were in the wrong; confessing that something they had done had contributed to a disaster that had befallen the people.
That kind of behavior could never occur in modern America. We fall all over ourselves in an effort to formulate an excuse, develop a rationale, or find a scapegoat to blame: it’s never our fault when things go awry. It must be due to those other people, it must have been caused by some other situation. No, no, nothing to do with us.
And anybody who suggests otherwise can expect a call from our lawyer!
But imagine ….
Imagine if we took seriously our participation in the evils on our world; if we admitted — first to ourselves, and then to others — that we have done things we ought not to have done, that we have not done things we should have done.
What would it be like if we confessed — by shredding our clothing or covering our foreheads with ashes — that we regret that the world is as it is, and admit it is not the kingdom our Lord asked us to build?
What would it be like if we lifted up our cross each day, openly and courageously, and dared to dedicate our lives to God?