Third Scripture - Jeremiah 36:22-23 22 It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. 23 Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire.
The consistent theme of Charlie Brown's Christmas is the resistance of Charlie Brown's friends to his insistence that Christmas must mean more than presents and parties. Linus, who eventually gives voice to the Christmas story at the end of the show, at first dismisses Charlie Brown's concerns. His visit to Lucy in her psychiatric booth results in him being diagnosed with various phobias and a quick pivot to Lucy dropping hints about what gifts she would like. When he sits to help his sister write a letter to Santa, Sally's long list of presents and generous offer of accepting cash in lieu of presents causes Charlie Brown great despair. All of which illustrates the most troubling aspect of the story of Jeremiah. The resistance of those being called to.
On Sunday, we read a bit of the story of the resistant listeners. The King takes the scroll with Jeremiah's message and systematically destroys it in his fire. The word of God is immediately dismissed. What we did not hear on Sunday, but I have included a bit of in today's reading is Jeremiah's despondency. The verses from chapter 12 are God's response to Jeremiah asking why his words seem to have no effect. But his question is more an accusation and a plea to be freed from the call to speak on God's behalf.
I will admit that my immediate reaction is to be a bit weary of writing devotions about resistance, both our own resistance to God's call and the resistance of the culture in which we live to hear God's word. After a while, we all become desensitized to the message and it is easily ignored. But what occurs to me is the consistency of this message. It began with Adam and Eve in the garden and has continued ever since. The one tree they were warned against is the tree they had to eat from. They resisted the warning of God. From Pharaoh in Egypt to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at times, God's will and word were dismissed, rejected, and ignored. Which is to say that the consistent witness of the First Testament is that we as humans tend to not listen carefully to the call of God. This realization made all the more pointed by the fact that yesterday Jeremiah revealed that proper worship does not necessarily guarantee that we have been listening at all. Sometimes that worship is the very vehicle by which we ignore the call.
It is tempting to rush past this part of Jeremiah's story. My first reaction, our first reaction is to rest easy in the comfort that we have listened and this warning must apply to others. But in my own experience, I have learned that there is almost always something I have missed, ignored, not paid attention too when it comes to the call of God. Whether this is some facet of the word of God recorded in the Bible or the word of God revealed through the struggle and suffering of the vulnerable, I am constantly reminded of the ways in which I have ignored or dismissed the call of God. This past Sunday we sang the hymn, 'Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne,' which contains the repeated line, 'O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.' The realization that it is far too easy to ignore the call of God does not mean that we are beyond redemption or hope or inherently evil people. It does mean that a key part of our spiritual lives is to remain open and attentive to the call of God. Which is how the awareness of how easy it is to ignore or dismiss God, even while we are worshipping God, shapes us. It reminds us to make as a part of our daily spiritual lives, moment by moment actually, this same plea, to make room in our hearts for Jesus, the word of God incarnate.