Many people are dogged by regrets when they consider their past life. Either someone else has robbed them of their best years or they themselves, through fear or idleness, or excess have wasted those years.
Such regrets can be very debilitating and can produce cynicism or loss of energy: why bother? And yet, the nature of our glorious gospel and the nature of our God who inspires the gospel is one of a future filled with hope.
In our passage today we find that God (through the prophet Joel) has been addressing various categories of people who have reason to regret their past. First there is the “aged men” (1:2), and secondly “you drunkards” (1:5), then there are disappointed brides (1:8), and then struggling farmers (1:11). The ‘robber’ in the lives of all these people is illustrated by the “locusts” (1:4, 2:25). These creatures have eaten away all their past hopes and efforts. The result was dissatisfaction and frustration.
May be we can identify with such sentiments. Have we made wrong decisions and missed out on opportunities? Have others overruled our lives? Did we fail exams or get pipped at the post in a job application? Were we tied to our parents or jilted at the altar? God knows!
Over the next weeks we shall consider the hope that God wants to bring us. The years that “the swarming locust has eaten” (v.25) will be restored to us. Of course we cannot get back the past, but the future can make up for what was lost. The most transformative thing that God can, and will do, is to fill us with his Spirit. In our reading we have that great passage which St Peter quotes on the Day of Pentecost: “And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh …” (v.28). Your Spirit-filled life will then enable God to open up new doors of opportunity. With God there is always a future and a hope.
Lord, I am sorry for my past. I long for better things. Fill me anew with your Spirit, and fill me with hope. Amen.
We give a special welcome to The Archbishop of Wales, The Most Reverend Dr Barry Morgan and his wife, Hilary who have travelled over the bridge to be with us today, Sunday 9th March. +Barry and Hilary will be staying for coffee and a bring and share lunch so do stay and chat to them.
Archbishop Barry was ordained in 1972, and became a parish priest and lecturer in Theology. From 1986 to 1993 he was Archdeacon of Merioneth, in 1993 was made Bishop of Bangor and in 1999 Bishop of Llandaff, before being voted Archbishop of Wales by the six Welsh bishops. Recently Archbishop Barry went out with the street pastors in Pontypridd and joined in with them as they talked to the clubbers on a Friday night.
Join us as we celebrate +Barry’s visit and the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. Lent is a time of spiritual preparation echoing the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness before embarking on his ministry. The Old Testament reading tells the story of “The Fall”; a time when sin entered the world through human disobedience. We are really pleased that this is being read in Welsh by Albert Jones, a member of the Taunton Welsh Society and in English by Chorister Rosanna Smillie.
“The Lent Lectures will be given this year by the signatory at the end of this letter (me!). They will be given in church at 7.30pm each Thursday, starting 13th March. Some Home Groups will cease during Lent so that members can attend. We hope these times will not only instruct the mind but warm the heart and challenge the will. Do come if you can.”
The Confirmation Service is on Thursday 1st May 6.30pm at St James Church. Confirmation classes for adults wishing to be confirmed start on 12th March and run every Wednesday until 16th April, from 7.30pm-9.30pm. Please sign the sheet at the back of church if you wish to join the classes.
Classes for young people wishing to be confirmed will be held on Friday evenings in the Upper Room from 7.45-9.00pm on March 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th. Please also sign the sheet at the back of church, or speak to Margaret Roe or Rod.