In this light, the parable of the pots is less about the ability of God to respond to our good or evil acts, than it is about God choosing us to contain the gospel, despite the fact that we too often muck up and despite the fact that we are all cracked pots! Nevertheless, God has chosen us to be vessels of God's gospel. The HR manager interviewed him then watched him cleaning the floor as a test.
He went door to door and sold them. In less than two hours, he managed to double his money. He realised that he could actually survive that way and each day went out earlier and got home later.
His money doubled and tripled in no time. He bought a cart, then a truck, and soon he had a fleet of delivery vehicles. The broker asked him for his email address. Are we listening? Citing his young age, he objects. Reluctantly, Jeremiah agrees to God's call.
It is apparent that Jeremiah is called to deliver a message that is both difficult and unwelcome. The declaration that God knew him before he was born, even before he was formed in his mother's womb, does not exempt Jeremiah from problems inherent in his ministerial calling.
Though compelled to preach, Jeremiah seems to retain the reluctance of his youth throughout his ministerial career. The duality of his response might cause one to wonder whether he is struggling with mixed feelings, misunderstandings, or just having a bad day! His faith was big enough for the difficult complex task to which God called him. Do you feel called too?
There was a documentary series titled: Life After Humans that surmised what earth might look like without humans after 50 years, years, 10, years… It was a fascinating prediction of how long it would take for tarmac and concrete to crack, buildings to fall, and how well animals and plants would do. Isaiah talks about the people of Israel and Judah as a vineyard, a garden where God did all that God could, to make it flourish. Sometimes the fruit fails due to bad seed, disease, and the variances in the weather.
And if the soil is tired then we leave it for a while uncultivated and let it rest. Give it time to get over human exploitation. God has seen the vineyard he planted that should have become fruitful with a bounty of love and righteousness. Our best hope is to allow ourselves to be cultivated to work fruitfully in our communities. But if the wild grapes have already fruited, as they certainly have done in so many places, then we must also learn to welcome the resets when they are needed. It is better that the gardens of our common life be brought back to the wilds of an uncultivated garden rather than continue producing bad fruit.
We should welcome the return of weeds and await the hand of the divine gardener who will lead us again to the fruits of a flourishing vine. Teach it to our children and anyone who would be open to hear and do what it takes to be a church in the wild and be prepared to learn the skills to tend the earth to rest, repair, and reset it! Our lives are very comfortable, we have great freedom, and we can come to church and sit in our regular pews week by week to worship God.
But, now we are confronted with Hebrews being strangers and foreigners seeking a homeland and better country! A far cry from the comforts of our pews! They are on a journey.
Is there a destination or is this script telling us about the journey? When we think about following Jesus and being a church, I believe we are called to think of our Christian service as far broader than greeting at the door or doing the readings or leading prayer. Our pilgrimage of faith is a day by day thing and we are called to live our faith in every setting we find ourselves. This is where the rubber hits the road. Being the people of God means helping others and this as Jesus points out is a personal thing.
Let us journey on this pilgrimage together.
Although the fragment does not contain the name of Mary Magdalene, some authors speculated that she was the woman referred to. God has placed us into a community of believers so that we can build one another up in the faith. Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. He stuck it out. My judgment inclines to what seems a medium between two extremes,—between the decision of some German philosophical expositors who are too critical, and the decision of some English practical preachers who are not critical enough. Only you must answer. Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise.
Being a parent must be hard. The delicate dance you do in order to nurture, to teach, to instil discipline and to love must be one of the greatest challenges any parent can experience. God created us, loves, nurtures, and teaches us. God instils in us a sense of what it is to be just and good people. I treated them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them. Israel, to continue with our metaphor, was like a rebellious teenager.
And here is where we see the warm and loving God turn. God considers letting them fall to the Egyptians and the Assyrians. You made your bed, now you lie in it!
This is the parenting image of God, offered by a prophet of nearly three thousand years ago. God wants us to live, to thrive, to be healthy, just, kind and good. God wants us to show one another the kind of love God has shown us. God wants to look at our faces and see his own reflected there. Thanks be to God. But, being a parent must be hard!
Most of us will have installed ways to protect ourselves and our belongings. We have gated communities, alarms on everything, and even software on our cell phones that if it gets stolen police can trace it to the thief! And because of all these precautions we tend to not subscribe to the notion that we are vulnerable. To avoid vulnerability, we build up mechanisms that deal with tragedy, pain, and sorrow. And one of the things we fear most is change! We live by the illusion that if we take the right steps, if we are careful enough, if we have a good plan in place, we can keep things just the way we want them, safe!
Sound familiar? Paul is saying that contrary to popular belief there is only one power of prevention and that is from God. And rather than threaten us with pain and suffering if we step out of line, like Amos has done, this God is the one who in Jesus sets us free. For some of us, that is the best news anyone could ever give us.
For others it might bounce off the layers of protection we have built up to fend off the pain of this world. Many of us are so closed in that we never get to experience the wonderful transformation. The down side of the good news, if you want to call it that, is that you must be vulnerable to experience the changes.
And when God gives us the Spirit, in that generous way that God does, it is a gift that renews the whole world and changes everything! That you and me too! As promised, Amos is back this week with a profound message of social justice!
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A fine offering to Yahweh from a proud farmer, who is keen to show off his produce. Nods of admiration follow the placement of this succulent and generous gift, and the farmer, with head held high, is delighted to receive the applause his harvest attracts.
Amos lurks in the background and sees something very different. Where the fruit means success and divine favor, Amos sees only doom and gloom for the farmer and admirers alike! Israel's lack of interest in the poor and needy will lead to their own demise. Instead of abundant fruit there will be famine; instead of happy song, dark lament; instead of a bright future, emptiness.
But it turns out that the loss of fruit is not the worst tragedy. From sea to sea, north to east, they shall not find it" What? Surely, we parade into our churches and hear the Word. Surely that is the Word of Yahweh!
Is it? According to Amos, while the poor are ignored, rejected, marginalised, and set aside in favour of the wealthy, no amount of reading, preaching, singing, and praying can ever lead us into the presence of God.