Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sermon notes on Joel 2:23-32

“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh!”

So God speaks through the prophet Joel to communities which have struggled to force a harvest from their fields with little rain. So he speaks to people who have barely been able to retain a sense of vision and purpose in times which are hard - both politically and spiritually. It will all come to pass. The times will be good again.

This time of restoration, with fields bearing the full weight of heavy heads of grains, with sons and daughters fit for prophecy and with old men (and presumably old women) seeing into the depth of things with wisdom and insight has always, in the Christian tradition, been seen in light of the gift of God’s spirit on the day of Pentecost.

First of all the gift is given - it is not confected through human effort and cunning plans. It arrives in God’s good time.

Secondly - the gift is poured upon ordinary human flesh: Ordinary humans - with the rustic abilities common to their humanity - find that their ordinary speech now wins over nations and convinces individuals. Hospitality - rather than being the simple ability to set a table and provide a roof - becomes a spiritual gift.

The Church has always had a table set in its midst.

Our sons and daughters and our old people: Note how those of us who consider themselves at the apex of their abilities as wage earners, parents, movers and shakers are here reminded that God spreads his talents far and wide and that we must look to the edges of our family - to youth and to elderly people to see what God is doing next.

The reading from Joel is both thrilling and humbling - a reasonable foretaste of the Advent season where we will marvel at how God uses whom he wills to bring about the transformation of the created order.

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