Part of the beauty of blogging is that disorganised people like myself can get, well, organised – my post for Pentecost has been primed to go live for a couple of weeks now, and so I don’t have to worry about oversleeping on Sunday and not uploading it. Technology is wonderful.
But this is a Bible blog, and Bible blogs are never that simple. Anyone would think someone out there has a vested interest in them.
Anyway, I’ve just joined a new library, and the first book I ‘ve borrowed is The Library Book, edited by the Reading Agency. This is an anthology of writing on libraries by a number of well-known authors, but the piece that got me thinking was the forward, in which a librarian tell of her mobile library’s encounters with the homeless.
It’s moving to read of how lending a book to someone on the streets is more than just a nice public service – it’s an act of trust. After all, when your clientele is itinerant, you’re not going to get all of your books back.
And yet books were returned – kept dry when their reader himself was soaking wet, and acting as a catalyst for conversations other than homeless shelters. One man, having got back on his feet, became a librarian himself. Lending books became a humanising event, an act of grace almost. It changed people’s lives.
On Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, another act of grace, another moment when fragile, broken humans are entrusted with something that broadens their horizons, brightens their world. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given, and while there would have been times that those first disciples would have dropped the ball, God still achieved amazing things through a bunch of people written off as corrupt, or terrorists, or yokels. They became more than their stereotypes, they became what God wanted them to be, through his grace.
Paul summed it up best, I guess, with his history of persecuting the church before being confronted with his mistake. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay,” he writes in 2 Corinthians 6, “to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Broken as we may be, God still works with us, a treasure in jars of clay, a library book in an Asda bag. And this act of grace can lead to transformation, if we accept it. It’s given freely, a thing of beauty.
Even to people like us.
PS. It’s a ‘coincidence’, but not an unwelcome one, that today, over at my other blog, I also talk about grace. But in a totally different context…