July 3 Edevotional
I’m contemplating the prophet Jeremiah and some of the other prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah, Micah, Jonah, and Amos. I think that there must have been female prophets as well, their stories hidden and untold. When life comes unraveled, when a way of thinking or believing is unraveled, when a way of life, an expectation, a dream, when a relationship comes unraveled, the prophets bring a word from their own experience of the Absolute One, the God of covenant faithfulness, whose presence helps to put everything else into perspective.
As we heard this past Sunday, Jeremiah writes a letter to the Israelite people, held in covenant with the living God, and taken by the conquering army of Babylon, into exile. Everything they have known, all of the symbols of God’s presence and abundance have come unraveled, their temple, their land, their home, and their community. Certainly, they’re exile is only temporary. Now, few of us have known this extent of unraveling…then again, many of you have. In our stages of grief, sifting through the tattered threads, the hope we can cling to, is to be able to quickly return to the tattered threads of what was, and rebuild, reconcile, reweave some semblance of what was.
But that hope is not in Jeremiah’s letter. Instead,
“These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. It said: 4Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:1,2,4-7)
Rather than tell God’s people to wait and keep themselves separate, shut-off until they can get back, Jeremiah writes for the people to build something new. He instructs the covenant people to build up a new space of healing and hope. The word from the Absolute One is that God is found in this different, “ugly”, enemy space too! Pray for these people, seek their welfare. Build houses here in this place, no matter that you may think what you build will have no resale value! Plant seeds of love, no matter that they may be watered with your tears of grief for what you had. Move forward, embracing the God and the people that you know yourselves to be. Let those words sink into your soul today, my friend.
Pastor Sherrie Lowly