Strange how what a prophet had to say 2,800-plus years ago can have relevance to what is going on today. As the nine participants of Wednesday morning’s pandemic personal distancing Bible Study peered at each other on their screens, it didn’t take long for us to find a connection.
This week we’ve been hearing about meat packaging plants closing down because of outbreaks of contagion, potato farmers not being able to sell their products because the bottom has dropped out of the demand for French fries, and food banks desperate to fill their shelves. What a world we live in. And yet here is Joel lamenting crop failures, plants withering on the vine, fire and drought and a devastated agriculture.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the behavior of God’s people in a time of crisis came into sharp focus. Joel called on the people of his time to repent and to gather together and cry out to God – a common theme in the prophets of the Old Testament. But he didn’t just harangue them from a position of authority; he personally appealed to God on his own behalf.
In our time, we’re not gathering together; we’re staying apart. But it’s how we stay apart that’s important. By connecting with others, helping those in need, and looking after our brothers and sisters, the Church puts into practise Jesus’ message of helping people see God more clearly. That, says Reverend Jim, is the institution’s purpose. In these times the Christian community will be judged by how well we do that.
To reinforce that message, Reverend Jim quoted an anonymous poem sent to him by a friend:
“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see;
I sought my God, but my God eluded me.
I sought my brother, and I found all three.”
At Knox, the Wednesday and Saturday ongoing provision of take-out of meals shows our neighbours that we are trying to do just that.
Next week it’s on to chapter two of Joel. We’re still being told that things get better.
Anyone wanting to join in the discussion on Wednesday at 11 am can find instructions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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