Saving Salvation
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
Pentecost Sunday
Joel 3:1-5

The religious idea of salvation originated among people with an intense need for change in their world. They were also people who believed that God was directly involved with them in a way that made his will the inevitable fact of life.

In the world we call home, however, many of us see no need for such change. Our lives are comfortable; we’re generally secure. Others look for no change because they feel caught in a current of hardship and suffering more powerful than any imaginable rescuer. These folks hope simply to endure, not escape. For both groups salvation is no more than an assurance of comfort after death. To their ears God’s promise to “work wonders in the heavens and on the earth” sounds quaint at best.

Certainly some continue to speak facilely of salvation regardless of how meaningless the term is to most of their audience. The rest of us, however, must set about rescuing the word – or, more usefully, the message behind the word – from its current focus on personal eternities. We face a task essential to restoring the power of God’s promise. It’s essential to opening ourselves to the activity of God’s Spirit within us. It’s essential to fending off the urge to fabricate a relevant faith by resurrecting some past age of piety. Meaningless salvation leaves us with a meaningless religion.

What’s the state of the world we live in? What‘s the deepest hope of the human community? What evil realities do we despair of overcoming alone, without the assurance that life’s Creator stands with us? No one answers these questions for us.

Being adult Christians doesn’t center on determining one or another issue of ecclesiastical policy. It’s a matter of actively fashioning our vision of the world God promises. It’s assuming an active role in setting the best course for our journey to that future.

Never in the history of our Church has every Christian possessed the voice and responsibility that each of us has today. No one has decreed this responsibility to be ours; it has evolved to us within the conditions of our times. No one can take it away. It’s an exciting challenge.