Note = A little on the short side because we had a guest speaker from Gideon’s International. Not entirely happy with this but received good feedback.
Sermon = Return and restore
Text = Joel 2
Sunday = 23rd Sunday of Pentecost (C)
You will have enough to eat and be satisfied and will praise the Lord your God who has done wonderful things for you. My people will never again experience shame. Then you will know that I am among you and that I Yahweh the Lord am your God and there is no other. My people never again will be ashamed.
In our Bible reading for this morning the prophet Joel proclaims good news to a people who have experienced suffering and destruction. Probably after the end of the Babylonian exile around five hundred BC. We can tell from the Bible reading and from chapter one that they experienced natural disaster. Insects came and ate everything. The fields are bare the ground mourns because the crops are destroyed… the seeds die there is no grain the storage buildings are empty the animals cry out because their is no food the rivers have become dry.
For Baton Rouge and south Louisiana not insects but water. Not a dry time but a wet time. In many ways an empty time because we clean out homes and apartments and businesses and church buildings. Stressful time. Time of suffering. Different kinds of suffering in other parts of the nation and other parts of the world. Agricultural. Political. Economic. Personal. Religious. We have our own stories and own experiences. Our own dry time / wet time / empty time / time of struggle. Too much work in the library or laboratory or office or classroom or home. Perhaps we have an apartment and plenty to eat and drink and our soul is tired / our hearts are dry.
Into this experience / into our experiences of hurt or exhaustion or disappointment or loss arrives this radical word of God through the prophet Joel.
Be glad… rejoice at what the Lord your God has done for you. God has given you poured out rain. Your empty places will be full again and overflow. I will give you back what you have lost in the years of difficulty and struggle. Now you will have plenty… you will praise the Lord your God who has done wonderful things for you. You will never again experience shame. Then you will know that I am with you. That I the Lord am God and there is no other.
Know that I am with you. I the Lord am God there is no other.
Even during the difficult time there can be joy. Change and hope are possible. Perhaps happening even now. Already available to us from God the Father through Jesus Christ his Son. The kingdom of God intrudes and there is joy / peace / love / forgiveness / healing / purpose / blessing. Death and defeat / shame and loss do not have the last word. The mercy of God is available to us here and now.