Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Have you ever had an encounter with a sheep? Have you ever met a shepherd? Do you know anything about them outside of the images that you read in the Bible? For contemporary people, the metaphor of sheep and shepherd has become mostly theoretical, while for Jeremiah’s audience it was commonplace and familiar. The shepherd leading his flock is a familiar image in church life, but one which does not use a description of day-to-day life to describe a religious image. Rather, it is a back-formation—using the religious metaphor to describe a present experience. Continue reading
Text: Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7
Prone to worry and anxiety about my family and my work, about all there is for me to do as well as all that I’ve left undone, I tend to forget who I am and what I am. When I value myself – or believe that others value me – only for the work I do, I enslave myself. I become an exhausted and resentful human doing instead of a human being. I live in exile not only from myself, but from other human beings. Ironically, such exile is most frequent when I’m in the thick of people, human-made things, and lofty ideas. The solution to such spiritual exile, for me, is physical exile – a solitary return to the wilderness, or at least the wilderness of my own backyard – where I can hear my own breath, feel the leaf-filtered sunlight upon my face, taste the salt on my skin. In reconnecting with my body and the body of the earth, I find my welfare – the simple body self who, like the giant oak onto which I lean, is merely and magnificently an un-judged child of God.
Text: Jeremiah 31:7-14
Jeremiah did not go into exile with his people; he writes for those who were left behind after the Babylonians took the upper levels of the culture back to Babylon in a series of three deportations. For those left behind, the situation was dire – wells were poisoned, soil salted; it is thought that the book of Lamentations was written during this time. Those who survived went to Egypt out of hunger and desperation. Jeremiah’s consolation was that there would be a remnant, some who would eventually go home, and recreate a world. With weeping they will come and with consolations I will lead them back, says God, through Jeremiah. I will turn their mourning into joy, says the Lord. Continue reading