Scripture – Jeremiah 1:1 The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth...
Thus far our reflections have led us into both the bright promise of the life of Jeremiah in which our truest and best selves can be discovered as well as the exacting process of being liberated from the characteristics that do NOT reavel the light and love of Christ. Jeremiah laments the sometimes painful results of being shaped by the life of Christ to which God responds, keep running, keep going. That is the question. How is it that we keep going?
The story of Jeremiah opens by telling us Jeremiah's name. This name means something. It can be translated 'God has appointed,' which is a reminder that the disciple has a responsibility to reflect the image of God in a dark world. In the second chapter of Jeremiah God speaks these words of criticism to Israel, 'What wrong did your fathers find in me, that they went far away from me, and pursued what is worthless and became worthless.' The words are harsh. But they speak a truth. What we worship, what we devote time and energy to, shapes us. Israel has pursued what is worthless, instant gratification, mindless entertainment, profit, power, strength. And it has caused them to decline as individuals and as a nation. It has made them smaller. First Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann has written, “When we live according to our fears and our hates, our lives become small and defensive, lacking the deep, joyous generosity of God. If you find some part of your life where your daily round has grown thin and controlling and resentful, life with God is much, much larger, shattering our little categories of control, permitting us to say that God’s purposes led us well beyond ourselves to live and to forgive, to create life we would not have imagined” Jeremiah's name can also be translated as a promise of God's rescue. Jeremiah can also mean, God has raised up.
Now we begin to realize the importance of all these naming stories in the Bible. Abram renamed Abraham, Jacob renamed Israel, Saul renamed Paul. We find our true identity, we discover who we are intended to be in relationship to God. Jeremiah is reminded of this in the telling of his own story. He is reminded of the awesome responsibility, for he is God's appointed. He is reminded of this potential every time he speaks. He is God's appointed. But he is also reminded of the promise of security even when his words are rejected for he will be raised up by God. Again we are challenged. It is not we who get to decide who we are. Our identity is not a solitary act or decision. I know that sounds offensive in our culture in which self-actualization is so prized. That is how we keep going. We remember when being stretched by the call of God, when we being challenged by the powers of culture and tempted by its idols, that we are named by God and we are being, even in these challenging moments, raised up. Fred Buechner has said that we find our place in the world, our place in God's plan where our deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meets. Jesus found deep gladness, the gospels tell us, by nurturing loving relationships among societies outcasts by sharing a meal with them. The great joy of Jesus met the worlds deep hunger. Could we see Jeremiah's life in a similar way? What happens when we great each day ourselves as an opportunity to let our deep Jesus inspired joy meet the hunger of the world?
Prayer – Protect us God from the fears that too often dissuade us from taking the demanding step of discipleship. Comfort us when life is challenging. Bolster us when discipleship is sacrifice. Remind us that you have called us by name and we are yours. That you protect us through life's floods and fires. That you have created us and empowered us to enter them and with you speak a word of healing and of peace.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.