Praying is an extremely political activity: Jeremiah brings a message from the Lord. He reminds the Jewish exiles that they are living in Babylon because the Lord brought them there. He says that rather than pining to leave, they should settle there, build houses, and create a life for themselves. When I was asked to give an invocation for a City Council meeting a month after coming to Provo, Utah, I used part of today’s reading Jeremiah 29:1-23:
“Listen for the Word of God in Jeremiah 29, Verses 4 through 9:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take 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. But 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. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.
Let us pray:
O Lord, our Creator, by your holy prophet you taught your ancient people to seek the welfare of the cities in which they lived. Today we commend our city to your care, that it might be kept free from social strife and decay. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create here a community of justice and peace where your will may be done; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”