Little is known about the Prophet Joel, who probably wrote these words that we heard in our first lesson tonight around 586BC. Yet with bold - even challenging - language for our modern ears to hear, Joel calls the people of Judah and Jerusalem to repent and return to the Lord during a time of national disaster (from the Introduction to the Book of Joel, ESV).

Mmmm...a time of national disaster...we don’t know anything about that, do we?

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Good morning everyone.

You know, we worship a Gods who illuminates the everyday so that we might see how Christ is calling us to live in a new way. To live a new way, not just for ourselves, but so that others might be carried along in the goodness being worked in our lives by a greater hand.

After all, though we may be able to do great things by exerting great effort, by pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps as the saying goes; true transformation work, as Christians understand it, and the illuminating transfiguration work that precedes it, that comes by the hand of Jesus. And it seeks to change not only our understanding of ourselves, but of God’s calling for us to serve the world around us.

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen. I want to invite us to hear a portion of today’s reading from Isaiah again:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

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Today’s sermon is presented in the form of a poem that I wrote as I pondered and prayed on the scriptures assigned for this week and considered all that has been happening in our nation and world in this past month.

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I must admit that it was incredibly difficult to write a sermon this week. I still feel somewhat shell-shocked, as no doubt some or even all of you do, by the events that have transpired. Yet, as I prayed and steeped myself in the scriptures, I found two images placing themselves side by side in my consciousness. One was an image from the gospel itself, and the other was an image from the news on what is being described as one of the darkest days of United States history.

The first of these two images was of John the Baptist, clothed, as we heard in today’s gospel, in camel hair, calling the people to repent of their sins and turn to God. John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s hair and baptizing Jesus, the Sovereign of Love and Author of all creation, there in the River Jordan.

The other image that I found in my mind was a member of the mob of people who broke into the Capital Building this past Wednesday. You may have noticed this man in news photos as well, as he wore a headdress of some kind of animal skin and horns.

Two men clothed in animal skins, but with entirely different messages.

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