by Bob Wickizer

Practice Mercy
Bob Wickizer
Joel 2:23-32

Although the science in the recent movie, "The Day after Tomorrow," might be faulted, the theme itself of plunging the northern hemisphere into a sudden ice age might be a reasonable version of what the prophet Joel had in mind with the "terrible day of the Lord." In this vision of God's judgment at the end of times, Joel describes blood and fire and columns of smoke where the sun is darkened and the moon glows red.

The movie ends on an upbeat note where a tiny fraction of the surviving American population streams across a very snowy Mexican border. Likewise Joel ends this vision with a note of hopefulness so that on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, those who call on the name of the Lord are saved. They are the survivors; the ones whom the Lord calls.

Most of us however prefer not to think about the terrible day of the Lord, Judgment Day, the end of times. It is too dark, depressing and terrible to imagine. American and western culture has gone quite a bit further in our avoidance of judgment – we have evolved into a culture that fears death and worships youth. Older adults are no longer repositories of wisdom commanding respect in our society. Instead as people age beyond retirement, older adults are increasingly isolated from a society that prefers not to think about getting old and what comes after that.

Our cultural fear of death and judgment is so strong that we spend a third of our Gross National Product on healthcare converting every personal health issue into a battle between youthful health and disease-plagued old age. A recent report from the Pugh Foundation showed that North America and Europe spend significantly more on cosmetics every year than it would take to provide clean water and basic literacy for every person on the planet. Obviously we value the youthful look cosmetics give us over the needs of billions of people.

Avoidance of death and avoidance of judgment have p ...

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