Theme - the Lavish Love of God
Scripture – Jeremiah 1:5 …' I appointed you a prophet to the nations.' (NIV/NRSV)
'...I sanctified thee and I ordained thee.' (KJV)
Another influential Roman Catholic writer, Thomas Merton once wrote, '“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.” I was reminded of this quote as I thought about the meaning of the Hebrew word that is translated in the verse above 'appointed' or 'ordained.' In Hebrew the word is nathan and it literally means gift. So God is saying to Jeremiah, 'I gave you as a gift to the nations.'
Eugene Peterson reminds us in reflecting on this point, that the life of Jeremiah is meant to remind the people that God is 'lavishly generous.' Story after story is meant to remind us of the wanton generosity of God. In Isaiah 55:1 we find God's response to the suffering of Israel during the Babylonian Captivity, ' "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.' Notice the phrase, come without cost. God provides more than enough for the needs of those who have gone without. When Jesus describes God in the gospels God is often generous beyond comprehension. In Matthew 20 for instance, we find the parable in which the land-owner (God) pays the same wage to all his workers, regardless of whether they worked a full day or just the last hour. God is 'lavishly generous.' God delights in giving gifts.
In another First Testament story we see God trying to shape the Hebrews to be a nathan, a gift to the world by becoming generous people. As the Hebrews journey as refugees in the wilderness they do not find people or nations who are willing to care or provide for them. And they grow afraid that they will not have enough food to sustain them. So God provides manna from the heavens. With the manna, come instructions. Take enough manna for today but leave enough for your neighbors. The lesson is that when the Hebrews learn to trust in the abundance of God they will have a healthy society and experience the common good. When they grow fearful and selfish, they lose this common good. When driven by fear and selfishness we diminish to petty and violent people. This matters because the prophecy of the manna story has come true in Jeremiah's time. Judah has because petty and selfish and violent. They do not care for the poor and take advantage of the poor. In a sense, Jeremiah is the manna from heaven. This manna is the word of God reminding them that if they would trust God's abundance none would go without and all would live in security and satisfaction. This is the gift Jeremiah offers. Remember the generosity of God. repent of the small, selfish, cruel lives you have accepted out of fear.
The story of Jeremiah is a wake-up call to a society that continually says that it cannot afford to care for the poor and the sick. Those who trust in the Lord, who are shaped by Christ, live gracious, merciful, giving lives. We are created to be a gift. God has created each of us as a gift to one another and also to the world. Merton reminds us that we are created by Love to love one another.
Prayer – We begin our day with gratitude gracious and loving God. We are grateful for your mercy and grace which has forgiven our failures and nurtured our growth with love. We are grateful for the faith community you have created and led each of us to, which continues to care for us, forgive us and see the Divine Image within us. Fill us this day to overflowing with that same love and mercy that we might be a gift to all those who struggle. Remind us to live in and share this same love and mercy regardless of circumstance and so draw others to a relationship with the God who loves them because they have seen that love within us.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.