We have a lot of youth that hang around our house. Recently several of them have lamented at how excruciatingly terrible their history classes all are. It occurs to me they are probably learning events and dates. But they are probably not learning what’s truly important about the events and dates – the stories that tell us who we are in relation to the people who came before us, why things happened the way they did, and why what happened matters. In short, they are missing the stories passed down from generation to generation.
Joel knew how critical it was for the people, exiled and then liberated, to remember what happened and why. How their absence from the land led to the destruction of the land. Their own sin led to their downfall, and invaders destroyed what they left. They had to tell the story to their children, and their children’s children so they would never again repeat the mistakes they had made.
What stories have you learned from your parents, grandparents, or others who raised you? What’s important about those stories? What do they teach you about who you are and who you want to be? Reflect on those today, and consider what stories you want to tell to those who come after you.
The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel: Hear this, O elders, give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your ancestors? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. Wake up, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you wine-drinkers, over the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has invaded my land, powerful and innumerable; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vines, and splintered my fig trees; it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down; their branches have turned white.
Lament like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests mourn, the ministers of the Lord. The fields are devastated, the ground mourns; for the grain is destroyed, the wine dries up, the oil fails. Be dismayed, you farmers, wail, you vinedressers, over the wheat and the barley; for the crops of the field are ruined. The vine withers, the fig tree droops. Pomegranate, palm, and apple— all the trees of the field are dried up; surely, joy withers away among the people.