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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Recovery & Redemption (Jeremiah 1-9)

Our youth group took found a seat with a view of the river and broke out our sack lunches.  The rather on-the-nose Credence Clearwater Rival tune drifted across the public park. 

If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don't have to worry 'cause you have no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin'
Proud Mary keep on burnin'
Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river
Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river

A homeless guy approached our group.  Dad greeted him; as they exchanged small talk the man sprayed Lysol into its cap and took a drink.  Dad's fearlessness gave us permission to not be afraid.  We shared our lunches with him.  In between drinks of Lysol he shared the story of a tough life. We listened.  Then Dad said, "Hey John, put down the Lysol."  John couldn't do it and walked away.  

Unconditional love is a component of faith, but it is not the same as faith.  Dad knew that John needed more than just compassion; even though he probably also knew that John was by now incapable of taking that next necessary step.  Likewise, the Prophet Jeremiah brought word to the people of Judah who could no longer merely rest of being the chosen--even sufficient response was no longer possible.
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:

“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things?

Jeremiah 7:1-10.  The charges level against Israel are both spiritual infidelity and social injustice.  Earlier, Jeremiah warns Israel that all but a remnant will have to be destroyed.  He describes the process like a woman giving birth.  
I hear a cry as of a woman in labor,
a groan as of one bearing her first child—
the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands and saying,
“Alas! I am fainting;
my life is given over to murderers.”
Jeremiah 4:31.  Jeremiah's laments rings hauntingly true, today.

Do you think there is hope for America to avoid disaster and step back from the destruction brought on by unchecked greed and marginalizing massive sectors of its population?

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