Joel 2:1-2, 12-17\
2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:10
SUNDAY, MARCH 5
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Yesterday, Nancy B and I attended worship at Glade Church in Blacksburg. Glade is the southernmost congregation in our Shenandoah Association of the United Church of Christ. Even though I have been in a leadership position with our Association for about five years now, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of Glade Church’s active members and pastors at Association and Conference meetings, yesterday was the first time I got to visit there. It was completely delightful, charming and welcoming.
As we arrived, greeters were welcoming people at both entrances to the sanctuary. Their sanctuary is bright and lovely, with a real art gallery on the walls all around. The people who gathered for worship included a wide variety, a nice mix of ages and types of people. The attendance there is similar to our number of folks at Bethel, but the diversity is much greater at Glade.
As the service got underway, we soon began to hear about their recent exciting mission activities. For one, they provided housing, meals, and fellowship for some homeless men, in the room on one side of the sanctuary. Another of their missions is teaming up with the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership to welcome refugee families from Syria and other countries. They also go to a local laundromat for “Laundry Love,” where church people make friends with low-income neighbors, lend a hand, and pay for their washing (the cost of doing laundry in a laundromat these days would probably shock you). And they do much more.
As at Bethel this week, the theme of the Scripture lessons at Glade Church was “transfiguration,” both in the stories of what happened with Moses and Jesus on the mountaintops and also in the transformation of us believers. Rev. Susan Verbrugge gave us an excellent sermon about appreciating the brilliant, mountaintop moments
that brighten and inspire our lives.
We sang at least six or seven different songs during the service. While we at Bethel sing ‘Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow’ every week, the folks at Glade always sing this: “What does the Lord require for praise and offering? What sacrifice desire, or tribute bid you bring? Do justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God.”
If you are ever in the Blacksburg area, you would do well to visit Glade Church !
With the beginning of Lent this week, Ash Wednesday always brings a reading from the Old Testament prophet Joel. In the StillSpeaking Daily Devotional for last Saturday, February 18th, Rev. Bob Thompson of Corinth Reformed Church (UCC) in Hickory, North Carolina wrote this reflection, which meant a lot to me:
“Always Dealing with God”
“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.” - Joel 2:28
When the Jews faced the possibility of a 5th century B.C. Holocaust, Joel's little book inspired Queen Esther and her Uncle Mordecai to gather, fast, pray, and trust (Esther 4:3).
When the Apostle Paul was writing the letter to the Romans, he quoted Joel 2:32 as motivation to spread the good news: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
When the Jerusalem crowd accused Peter and the others of intoxication on the day of Pentecost, Peter noted that Joel had foreseen the day the Holy Spirit would make obsolete what we now call sexism and ageism. Crisis would help God's people see that we need every human voice as we seek to discern God's.
During our crises we might be tempted to blame or belittle God. In Joel's day people assumed their crisis implied God's absence or apathy. Eugene Peterson says God “used a current event in Israel as a text to call [God's] people to an immediate awareness that there wasn't a day that went by that they weren't dealing with God. We are always dealing with God.”
Prayer: Whatever disrupts my life, my community, or my world today, Lord, help me discern through unexpected voices how you are dealing with me. Through Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.
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