Jl1 So on the necessity again of acknowledging suffering without theodicising it. v11 grieve, with and for those who suffer v4 locusts upon locusts, devastation upon devastation. It is good for your heart to ache with these things. Sit with those devastated and grieve with them. Sometimes this is the holiest thing we can do. And v3 tell your children about these things. You will, of course, tell your children about Christ Jesus and the grace truth and beauty that overcome all things. But you must not tell them a sanitised gospel. You must tell them about locusts, & sin & death & injustice & confusion. The character Paul in the film Pure was overexposed, but easily might we be tempted to risk an under-exposure of children. Otherwise church pain is all the more likely to damage. We must be unafraid to speak the fragility, fecundity and failure of things, it is in those things that our children will find Jesus, in the reality of v12 withered vines and figs, the lived knowledge of what patience and raw hope for the Lk13v6-8 fig tree. What abiding means Jn 15 towards a new vine fruitfulness. More than sleepy words, the seriousness of these things. Prayers for our households, and for the refugees of Haringey, for these we v14 call our to God.
Jl2 It is not superstitious to consider that our heart condition has an environmental effect. We know this? Do we? Then what level of heart change is needed and how? .. First, countering the suggestion of superstition. If we are to sound an alarm v1, it is to draw attention to an environmental cause&effect so to advise an environmental cease&desist . An alarm. In whatever way you want to 'now-and-not-yet' this day of the Lord, an alarm must be sounded, an inconvenient truth must be told. We're. Not. Scaremongering. And, v11, who can endure global warming? So. The solution to climate change is repentance v12: fasting, weeping, mourning. That will hold back the sea level and divert the forest fire. Really? Wouldn't it be less awkward to allegorise the locusts? Can we not content ourselves with a God who merely heals emotionally, who stills the storms of our inner life? No, because that God is boring, useless and not God. .. Secondly, if our heart affects the environment via a God who is involved, that is, a God who judges hearts justly and intervenes mercifully and who brings real floods and who calms real storms, how shall we then live? - *As v16 gathered, v12 repentant, v13 circumcised hearts so then to be v32a callers, v32b called, v32/26/17 in his name, v28 by his spirit.* Too much? Breaking it down, to the best bits of a dense chapter: Gathered – v15-16 Let us small group thus, repentant for the sake of the nation. As a gathering who weeps together and fasts together v12. .. With circumcised hearts, rended hearts, entendered, surgically with a new birth vulnerability: repentance is a turning around, a turning of our organs inside out, painfully. .. So to be callers called, v32 contains both, encouraging reciprocated naming, knowing, nuzzling. Callers called: if you call on God, you know you are called; if you are called, then call on God. .. Because of his name v17, in his name v26, for his name v32. Struck by the boldness of their prayer in v17, akin to Elijah with Baal priests, risking God's reputation! Apparently we are allowed to pray in Jesus name in a way that puts his honour on the line, like cashing cheques in another's name, ridiculously bold, terrifying.. Are you sure? I couldn't, surely.. .. Finally, because of his Spirit v28. Because no one says Jesus is Lord, except by the Spirit. So, dream dreams today. Our God is near v1. And we can be unafraid v21.
Jl3 v3 The buying & selling of human beings reminds us that the slave trade is bigger today than it ever was. Remember, among all these prostitution metaphors, that the evil of this reality lies where men & women are bought & sold, no issue of choice about it. The mind runs up against a brick wall, as there is something too unspeakably terrible here. Image bearers of God abused beyond imagining for the sake of cheap sex. v8 imagine, it could be your son or daughter. This evil is not abstract. God, we are overwhelmed, but wanting to pay meaningfully for the world & its unspeakably terrible systems. We pray for London, especially over the Olympics, where multitudes of women have already been trafficked in to be used by the rich and powerful these two weeks. We pray in the name of Jesus that something can be said, that hidden things might be brought into the light, your Kingdom break in. I am struck by the 'selling' of v6, a selling of people to avoid inconvenience. Thinking of the world's brokenness, this sounds like ways we can defer to charities & organisations to deal with the messiness of people's pain..keep us from this in our motivations, Lord God, continue to challenge us with the face to face.. Loving others, which means not making war on them. Joel's v10 the deliberate inversion of Is2v4 and Mic4v3 knows that when we damage others we damage ourselves, that violent systems drain and destroy everyone. Mic4v2 be taught the way of the Lord. Beat. Your. Swords. Into. Ploughshares. Make violence against your own violence. Listen to one 10year old, and give up your armies, so that there might be enough flour that we can all be part of the bake-off.