By Sherry Black
A Reading from Joel 3:9-17
9 Proclaim this among the nations:
Consecrate yourselves for war;
stir up the warriors.
Let all the soldiers draw near;
let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”
11 Come quickly,
all you nations all around;
gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O Lord.
12 Let the nations rouse themselves
and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit to judge
all the neighboring nations.
13 Put in the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
for the winepress is full.
The vats overflow,
for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes,
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
16 The Lord roars from Zion
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth shake.
But the Lord is a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
17 So you shall know that I, the Lord your God,
dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall never again pass through it.
As we near the end of the book of Joel, we are introduced to the Day of the Lord. After all the destruction and calamities are reversed, the Lord — Yahweh — roars from Zion, speaking from Jerusalem. And while this Yahweh is powerful and mighty, God is still a refuge for his people, a place of safety and protection. Yahweh claims Zion and Jerusalem as his dwelling place, and marks them as sacred, holy. Since God lives there, Zion is his holy hill, Jerusalem a sanctuary.
The glory of the Lord is in Jerusalem.
However, when the Son of God, Emmanuel, comes to earth as a human being, the glory of the Lord is revealed in a new way. No longer is Jerusalem the focus of faith, but Jesus Christ is the New Jerusalem: “and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
And finally, as foretold in the Revelation to John, God’s people will live as Joel prophesied, when God and Jesus the Lamb will be the center of the holy city, the New Jerusalem: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4).
Amen. Come Lord Jesus!
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 Niagara – The Anglican Church of Canada
Christ Episcopal Church, San Antonio