Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, 12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.
22 "For my people are foolish;
they do not know me;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil
but do not know how to do good."
23 I looked on the earth, and it was complete chaos,
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and there was no one at all,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not make a full end.
28 Because of this the earth shall mourn
and the heavens above grow black,
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
I have not relented, nor will I turn back.
Recent Jeremiah Sundays
• From Pentecost 10, here's a little about Jeremiah.
• Jeremiah on Pentecost 12.
• Pentecost 13: Jeremiah at the Potter's House.
9/11/2001 + 21 = 2022
Twenty-one years later, where has the grief gone? Where have the memorial services gone?
This blog follows the Revised Common Lectionary; have you noticed that every so often the appointed scripture feels especially appropriate for the day at hand? Today's first reading is another reflection from the long, dense, book of Jeremiah; this week's saga of un-creation feels like the two decades ago reality of Ground Zero. It feels like the effects of human neglect of creation.
Thursday evening September 13, 2001, my Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America across the street and the one around the corner, a nearby Roman Catholic, that big United Methodist, and the United Church of Christ that bordered this neighborhood and the adjacent one gathered at the ELCA across the street and celebrated Eucharist. In the wake of unprecedented destruction on USA soil, yes, we offered thanks-giving! A glance into all creation healed and whole. A moment in the future God dreams of and calls us to help create.
Every now and then, people online still ask "where were you when you heard the news?" Monday evening 9/10/2001 I'd gotten back late from a seminar for the year-long Community Economic Development Certificate program I'd just started at San Diego State. Tireder than usual, I'd gotten up maybe an hour later than I typically did. By the time I turned on the morning news, the news had gone live. I watched the second plane hit the second tower.
Where were you?
Jeremiah 4:22 – God's people do not know God.
Especially for the prophets, to know God means acquaintance with God's ways of justice, righteousness, love, and mercy, and to do them. We recognize God's presence and learn to know God from the written words of scripture, in the preached word (as the Reformers insisted), in the sacraments, in creation, supremely in God's incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah was outraged at a series of wicked, bad, evil kings. You may remember even having a human monarch was God's concession to the people's desire to be "like other nations?" Self-interested, greedy national leadership and the threat of Babylon ultimately resulted in most of the elite being deported to Babylon and most of Jerusalem destroyed.
In classic prophetic style, Jeremiah spoke truth to power, probably while God's people still were in Judah; his word images evoke the creation narrative of Genesis played backwards into chaos and darkness, and cities "in ruin." With sizable populations, financial, political, religious, and educational institutions, their function as cultural and commercial crossroads, city has become a synonym for civilization.
Where We Live
"Dipping" into scripture to find a text that describes what we want to talk about, or to prove what we've already decided can be dangerous, naïve, and often results in bad theology. But doesn't "the whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not make a full end. Because of this the earth shall mourn," (4:27-28) sound like the un-creation of ecological devastation and climate change? Too much of creation's grief is the result of human carelessness, corporate and national greed, of not "knowing God" in the prophetic sense of doing justice, righteousness, mercy, and love.
God's promise through Jeremiah, "Yet I will not make a full end [of the land]" sounds like the earth care-creation justice many of God's people have become passionate about, as we pray, study, work, and hope toward the fullness of the new creation.
In the meantime, in spite of the status quo, because of the future God dreams of and we hope for, we keep gathering to make eucharist, the feast of life and reconciliation of all creation, for all creation.