Acts chapter 2 verses 17 and 18 (and see also Joel chapter 2 verses 28 and 29)
this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
It seems to me the future is getting less certain rather than more so. It had not occurred to me that we would not be singing in church by the beginning of August, that we would be having extra safeguards put in place like facemasks in shops, that public transport would still be largely empty. I guess I thought it would be altogether cleaner. Possibly that more people might have died but that the virus would have gone away somewhere else, even if it were likely to return with the November drizzle.
What is your vision of the future? Is it rosy or depressing? And what is it based upon? In the passage above Peter is talking to the amazed crowd in Jerusalem who had just witnessed the disciples speaking in all sorts of different tongues on the day of Pentecost. He’s talking about this event being the fulfillment of a prophecy from several hundred years earlier by the prophet Joel. Israel, in Joel’s time, had just suffered a plague of locusts and it had aggressive armies on its borders. The future was very uncertain indeed.
As far as I know, the immediate future was not remarkable for the Israelites in the time of Joel. The locusts eventually burnt themselves out after causing much suffering and Israel had a succession of invasions including the Greeks and the Romans. This was a prophecy, then, for some indeterminate time in the future. God’s time, not ours. And God’s time came with Jesus Christ who shared in both the suffering and the uncertainty on his throne on the cross before triumphing in the resurrection. And when the Holy Spirit was finally poured out on that first Pentecost life didn’t quickly get much easier or simpler either. Christians were persecuted and had a pretty thin time of it for decades.
So what was the point of the prophecy? I think there’s two things for us today. Life was far from easy, but it was far better with the guidance of the Holy Spirit than it was without it, because first it had meaning, and second, it had substance. The first Christians did not have it easy, but with the Holy Spirit they did have a purpose and direction. They knew who they were following even if they didn’t have a clue where he was going to lead them. They dreamt dreams about a future where Jesus was truly King and they trusted that this was what was going to happen. … One day! Perhaps that is a good message for how to live today. Know who you are following even if you haven’t a clue where he is going to lead you tomorrow. And dream of the day when Jesus is going to be truly King. … One day! And let the present uncertainties fade into a haze of unimportance!
Loving Lord, You are our hope and our strength in time of trouble. You are our ever present help in this difficult world and Lord, I know that You hold the future in the palm of Your hands and I trust You.
Thank You, that You are always there to provide for my needs and to protect me from the storms of life. I pray that no matter what the future holds, that You will remain there beside me. I know Lord, that no matter how difficult things become in this world that You have promised never to leave me nor forsake me, but I also know that in this world we will have tribulation and trials, and I pray that You will be with me through all that I face in the future.
You are my hope and You are my strength. You have promised that that no matter how difficult life becomes, Your grace is sufficient for all my needs. Help me to rely on You no matter what problems and difficulties arise, for my hope is in You.
Several weeks ago I offered you a Roger Wagner painting, Walking on water III. Here is another by Wgner, this time in stained glass in St Mary’s Iffley, entitled The flowering tree. I like the idea of journey in the flowing water and the centrality of Christ in the midst of uncertainty as he hangs on the cross.
If you would like to join us for Evening Prayer today (Tuesday) it is at 4.30pm
The link is:
Topic: Zoom Evening on Prayer on Tuesday
Time: Jul 28, 2020 04:30 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 898 5055 5632
The times for Evening Prayer on Zoom for the rest of the week are as follows:
Sunday worship: Parish Communion at 9am in church, Zoom Worship at 10.30am and Sunday Evening Prayer is at 6pm on Zoom
We hold Morning Prayer and some Evening Prayer in church nearly every day (see the pew leaflet for details). You are welcome to join us.