Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Epiphany 4C

Jeremiah 1:4-10

4Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 6Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." 7But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." 9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched [strike, jolt, shock: not gentle] my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

As we number Sundays after the feast of the Epiphany, the church's year of grace has moved into a short segment of green and growing Ordinary Time. After the Festival of Pentecost, we have a many months long season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary refers to structured, organized, patterned, arranged: "in order."

Today we'll mention Luke's gospel – the prophet Jeremiah – the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible book of Deuteronomy – neighborology, the word about the neighbor. All these sources and concepts are about living together in covenant as God's people, rather than existing alone in isolation.

This is Revised Common Lectionary year C when we focus mostly on gospel readings from Luke. You may remember Luke emphasizes making opportunities and resources such as food and housing level and equal for everyone: no one has too little or less than they need; no one has too much or more than they need. That's also very much the style of Deuteronomy, which along with Leviticus is one of the places we find the Ten Commandments that supremely are about living together as God's people with distributive justice, fairness, and compassion.

Today's first reading comes from Jeremiah. Last Sunday we talked about scripture becoming codified, throughly written down, preserved, and in a sense canonized, or made into the standard or measure that describes who God is, what God requires, how God's people live. Although he may have been in a mostly oral tradition that transmitted texts by talking, listening, hearing, and sharing again, Jeremiah also likely had some written-down texts (he had his own scribe, as well) and would have been very familiar with the book of Deuteronomy that influenced his own spoken and written words during his forty year long ministry.

Today's first reading comes from the beginning of Jeremiah. Please notice God is the main actor here assuring Jeremiah God has known, consecrated, appointed, and will send, command, and be with Jeremiah.

Like Jesus' call narratives, Jeremiah's call or vocation (same word from different languages) account fits our lives, too. We often think of calling or vocation as the major profession, job, or series of different more or less full-time work opportunities we'll have in our lives; of course those are important, but all of us have noticed God calls, sends, and enables us to smaller jobs, ministries, or acts of service. For every one of those mega or micro opportunities, ministries, or tasks (all the same thing), just as for Jeremiah, God leads us to it, enables us to do it, and will be with us through it. Just as for Jeremiah, we sometimes feel unqualified...

Discussion of language and other cultural conditions we need to meet, of particular gifts or assets we may need to have.

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