By Sherry Black
A Reading from Joel 2:28-3:8
28 Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days I will pour out my spirit.
30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
1 For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land 3 and cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes and sold girls for wine and drunk it down.
4 What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. 5 For you have taken my silver and my gold and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. 7 But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. 8 I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for the Lord has spoken.
These are likely the most well-known verses from the prophet Joel, quoted by St. Peter on the day of Pentecost: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” This still-speaking God, Yahweh, is promising to do new things. This will result in an inclusive society where all are equal and living in harmony with God.
Joel would have envisioned this message to be oriented toward the Jews, who it turns out are the first but — surprisingly! — not the only recipients. In the kingdom of God birthed in Christ Jesus, all nations are included. God’s Spirit will be poured out on all flesh! This is a new thing. This Spirit is poured like water on male and female; there are no gender exclusions. There are no age limits; both old and young receive this gift of the Spirit. There is no economic hierarchy; prisoners, slaves, and masters all obtain this gift. The promised Spirit will come with blessing and empowerment, not just for the Joel’s audience, not only for those gathered on Pentecost; Peter says the Spirit comes “for you and your children and for all who are far off” (Acts 2:39).
And that, my friends, includes us, the far-off ones. We too are the recipients of the same outpouring of the Holy Spirit because of our baptisms and membership in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. (Acts 2:23-22)
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Ngbo – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Diocese of the Rio Grande