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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, August 15, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 22:23–29          

O inhabitant of Lebanon, nested among the cedars, how you will groan when pangs come upon you, pain as of a woman in labor! As I live, says the Lord, even if King Coniah son of Jehoiakim of Judah were the signet ring on my right hand, even from there I would tear you off and give you into the hands of those who seek your life, into the hands of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and into the hands of the Chaldeans. I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. But they shall not return to the land to which they long to return. Is this man Coniah a despised broken pot, a vessel no one wants? Why are he and his offspring hurled out and cast away in a land that they do not know? O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord! (NRSV)

Reflection
The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed his disturbing message at a pivotal moment for the people of Jerusalem. They were surrounded by the armies of their archenemy Babylon. Their allies had deserted them. And what does Jeremiah have to say? Their God has given them into the hands of the Babylonians.

Jeremiah speaks passionately about their predicament. Listen to the verbs he uses. God tears the ring representing the king and his people from God’s hand and gives it to others. God will hurl the people from their homes into a foreign nation. The Holy One will cast the people away. And why? For the people have not listened to God. “O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord!”

Where do we discern the working of God’s Spirit in our own time and place? How is the Holy One speaking to us in the midst of our tumultuous national and international circumstances? Jeremiah still has a word for us.

I believe that God is often at work disrupting our familiar patterns, yes, even at work through those some call enemies. Is God challenging us through the immigrants seeking asylum on the southern borders of our nation? Are we being called to remember the counsel of our God to love our immigrant neighbors just as we love ourselves? How are we to “hear the word of the Lord”?

Prayer
God of justice and compassion, open our eyes, our ears, our lives to your work among neighbors we are reluctant to embrace. Surprise us by the depths of your justice and welcoming love, we pray. Help us hear your prophetic word confronting and guiding us through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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