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Mashup of an It Gets Better video and the Passion of the Christ

“Rachel is crying for her children” according to today’s reading Jeremiah 31:1-22.
“It’s been thousands of years now, but Rachel is still weeping for her children. She’s still refusing to be comforted. But she’s not in Ramah.” Today Rachel is crying all over America according to a sermon by Briallen Hopper.

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Shout for Joy

In today’s reading Jeremiah 30:1-24, the Jewish people are told to expect both punishment and forgiveness. How is punishment described? How is forgiveness described? How do nations experience the consequences of their actions today?

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Seek the Welfare of the City

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.”

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Jeremiah 32:16-44

Today’s Reading is Jeremiah 32:16-44.
The passage can be easily structured by looking for signal words for new beginnings:
Verse 16 “I prayed”
Verse 26 “Then the LORD said to me”
Verse 36 “The LORD, the God of Israel, said to me”

So that leaves us with the following structure:
16-25 Jeremiah’s Prayer
It’s is actually a question: Why did you want me to buy that piece of land since we are going to lose everything pretty soon anyway?
26-35 God’s Answer
God pours out his heart to Jeremiah: I am mad because I feel betrayed
36-44 God’s Intention
Then God explain that the land purchase is a symbol of hope: “I will restore the people to their land. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

Interesting, straightforward conversation – isn’t that what prayer is supposed to be!

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Jeremiah 32:1-15

Today’s Reading is Jeremiah 32:1-15. That was also the lectionary text for the twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Please listen to my sermon: At least they paid for it.