Then the LORD's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was threshing some wheat secretly in a wine press, so that the Midianites would not see him. (12) The LORD's angel appeared to him there and said, "The LORD is with you, brave and mighty man!" (13) Gideon said to him, "If I may ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if the LORD is with us? What happened to all the wonderful things that our fathers told us the LORD used to do—how he brought them out of Egypt? The LORD has abandoned us and left us to the mercy of the Midianites." (14) Then the LORD ordered him, "Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you." (15) Gideon replied, "But Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family."
"You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it. (14) "You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. (15) No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. (16) In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven".
October 25 2020
Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
Next week I am inviting us to come up with some ideas or visions for the future. So exciting! Of course if you have the dreams, the vision, be prepared to lead us into that future. We need visionaries, we need those who have decided to follow Jesus – no turning back, no turning back.
If you have a dream and you’re anxious, maybe a look at the kind of people that God calls and about getting it right, honouring God and at the same time being at peace within yourself.
Today a complicated outline:
1. A look at Gideon
2. A look at how God is portrayed
3. Coffee and sausages!
Israel is under foreign occupation and Gideon of course is anxious as you would be. We read that he is threshing wheat in a wine press. You thresh wheat outdoors where the wind blows the chaff away but Gideon is engaged in trying to make it happen where he can’t he seen and so it’s an impossible task for him.
We can understand that right? If the Midianites, the occupiers, see him they would take the wheat. Obviously he is anxious. But I wonder if something else is going on in his mind. Like, where is God? How come we are in this situation? And no doubt the pressing question: Why doesn’t someone do something.
I have no doubt about Gideon feeling that way.
Who is going to make it happen? There must be someone clever enough strong enough, rich enough, someone with the right connections to get this whole thing moving. Free us from what holds us captive.
So Gideon, frightened, we may assume is locked in a kind of analysis paralysis. I think we’ve all been there. There is something you want to do and you spend so much time analysing the situation that you never move. Right?
I have to replace a fence because if I don’t it will fall down. I’ve been analysing the situation for a couple of months. The more I analyse it the more despondent I become and the least likely I am to move. My analysis has caused paralysis.
Are you with me? Have you been there?
We say, it’s like a possum trapped in headlights. Everything gets too much and you don’t know where to move and you freeze!
On a more serious level sometimes it can become fatal in people’s lives and it ends up in dire consequences. If you find yourself there
talk to someone. Don’t let it build up within. Get help.
So there is Gideon in a stew trying to thresh wheat in a wine press. This is funny. Anyone reading it or hearing it later, would get a laugh out of it. It’s funny. It’s not to be read in solemn tones it’s a joke. “Did you hear about Gideon threshing wheat? In a wine press?” Idiot!
So that’s Gideon. The other character in the scene is major and that is God. Again, not be read in sonorous tones.
A little aside here, when we see the term the LORD’S angel, or the angel of the LORD, written in capital letters, the writer is using that term to refer to God, out of reverence to God. Being a good Jewish person he will not use the word God or LORD but rather the angel of the LORD. That’s an interesting aside!
How does he introduce God?
“The LORD's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer.”
What oak tree? The oak tree. Oh that oak tree the one in Joash’s backyard. God was sitting under it? This meant to be funny. It’s not a deep theological statement yet and the same time it can be. But it’s an odd picture and if your were hearing it for the first time you would laugh.
The Lord of the universe clothed in majesty and glory has turned up in Ophrah. Really where is he? Which hotel is He in? Uh, sitting under the oak tree in Joash’s backyard.
The country is over run with invaders; everyone is trying to contend with the Midianite Virus, everything is in uproar, everyone is afraid, all usual stuff has been effected, we don’t know what’s going to happen, we’ve lost jobs, we can’t even thresh wheat in public and in the midst of our panic, God is chilling out under an oak tree?
Again, the humour is written large. I wonder though does it convey some other thoughts. Like maybe: “Be still and know that I am God.”
At the same time it is a ridiculous and difficult time and Gideon will take this up with God – next week. But to me it conveys very strongly a contrast between my fears and God’s steadfast love. My panic and God’s calm.
And that is what we all need to realize at times.
Especially those times when we are caught in analysis paralysis when we are caught in the headlights of an oncoming disaster and we can’t move.
But you see, as a people, as families, as a church, beset by all kinds of what ifs and what will we do now and how will this turn out analysis paralysis is not an option. Nor is it an option to thresh wheat in a wine press where I am hidden and I’m not asked to give something up or to stand up and be counted. Because the world the community needs what I have to give. And to do that we need to know where we are going because people depend us. And we need to know that in all our panic at times and our fears there is one amongst us who is not panicking, whose not buying into our stress or distress and that is God. Present laid back, chilling under the oak tree in the backyard waiting for us to come to our senses. Cast the vision. Be open to God given dreams and to be sure of where we are going. We are not a drifting church, a drifting family, a people saying somebody must do something. We are the people of God the God who says, be still, chill, know that I am God. It will be O.K. I will make a way for you.
There is a lovely story – not sure of it’s truth:
Once Albert Einstein was traveling on a train from Princeton when the conductor came down the aisle punching tickets. When the conductor arrived at where Einstein was seated, the great physicist reached into his vest pocket, but could not find his ticket. So he reached into the pockets of his pants, but still he couldn’t find the ticket.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, it’s ok. I know who you are.”
As if not hearing these words, Einstein continued searching for the missing ticket. As he opened his briefcase to look inside the conductor said again, “Dr. Einstein, we all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Please don’t worry about it.”
Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets, but behind him he could see the scientist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for the missing ticket.
Rushing back to him, the conductor said, “Please,please Dr. Einstein, do not worry. I’m sure you bought a ticket. We know who you are and really, it’s no problem.”
Einstein stood up, looked the conductor in the eye and replied, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I do not know is where I am going.”
Einstein wanted to find his ticket so he could remind himself where he was headed!
May you and I, in the grace of God and in His peace truly know where we are headed. Today, if we will hear His voice. The best is yet to be.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and glory, world without end. Amen
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