As noted last month, Peter’s use of the prophecy of Joel to interpret the events of Pentecost is highly significant. The big miracle, we are told, is the unexpected revelation of what has been, up until now, a hidden Word. It comes to us in and through the mundane ranks of all kinds of ordinary people. The thing which seems to distinguish these messengers is that they are people we don’t expect to be in this position.
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions; your old men shall dream dreams. Joel gives us a description of the multiple, unexpected and unique ways in which God will choose to unveil the ongoing and relentless purpose which is hidden in Creation. The Word, which is an embryo of a New Universe, is unfolding before us. It is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and now, with the giving of the Spirit, through the proclamation of some unexpectedly normal and formerly ineligible messengers.
We are prepared by this event to listen for God’s Word in the unexpected; we will be amazed and astonished, not by razzmatazz but by that which is, by its normal and mundane character, the unexpected.
In our day, we have seen this prophesy come true in the amazing and powerful expansion of prophetic voice and the role of women in the churches and in the world. Not too long ago, this appeared impossible. Whatever else we might say about this time of struggle for the churches, we are witnessing some blessed, surprising and prophetic events. We might think, for example, of the ordination of Lydia Mamakwa as the bishop of Northern Ontario.
I attend St. Matthew’s, Riverdale, with my family. Just a few years ago, living and prophetic history was observed in that place through the ministry of Florence Li-Tim Oi, the first woman ordained in the Anglican Communion. It moves me to think that she was there, one of the great cloud of witnesses that is pointing us towards our true home in Jesus.
More and more, we hear God’s Word in normal voices. This is the miracle we have seen in the past and live in today. For the future, at the very least, we should expect to be amazed. Ω
Bishop Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.