Readings for 17th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/15/13:Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalm 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28:
- "A hot wind" - We don't usually mean it as a compliment when we say that someone is full of hot air - but when God uses it as a self-label, perhaps we'd do well to listen!
- Judgment - God is not going to cleanse or winnow this time, but judge. The word judgment has so many negative connotations attached. And I admit, I usually prefer to think of God as loving rather than God as judging - but the descriptions are not mutually exclusive! It is good that God judges us. These days, when I think of how much we fail to follow Jesus, how we fail in discipleship, the more convinced I am that we need to be judged. The good news is that God's judgment never comes without God's grace and mercy. Thanks be to God!
- Even in this passage, in which God has some harsh words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, God already speaks mercy: "yet I will not make a full end." (emphasis added)
- "The earth shall mourn." We should mourn the destruction and desolation we have brought upon ourselves. I mourn the way we ignore God. Do you?
- "Fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God.' Chris Haslam, my first stop for quality exegesis, says that this verse doesn't indicate atheism for the fools, but those who doubt that God actually cares about human affairs and behaviors. A lot of fools today, eh?
- "There is not one who does good, no, not one." This statement is perhaps exaggerated, or, if not, at least extreme, unless only in the sense that we are all sinners. But it reminds me of the quote from Augustine: "If we have understood, than what we have understood is not God." Likewise, we are not good, not even one of us, because God is good. If God is good, we are only a shadow of that...
- I wonder about the context of this psalm - the psalmist seems to have something very specific in mind - specific folks upon whom the psalmist wants God's 'terror' poured.
- "But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief." Interesting wording - that unbelief is equated with ignorance. Just not getting it. And because we don't get it, God still shows mercy. However...I don't think all our unbelief is from ignorance - I think we are stubborn, unconvinced, believing other, etc. Even so, God still shows mercy!
- "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Pretty straightforward, in a way, and yet so complicated theologically. What does "saving" entail? I agree that Jesus saves sinners, but I bet I would describe it a lot differently than some of my colleagues.
- I like how Jesus sets these stories up, saying, "who doesn't respond this way?", as if everyone reacts as in the parable - he sets the correct response as the expected norm even if he is actually advocating unusual behavior. What do I mean? Well, in this passage, Jesus acts like a whole crowd would really gather if a woman found a coin that she had lost. Maybe I'm just ignorant of the times, but I have a hard time believing that that would be the case. But Jesus acts as though it is normal, and urges us to behave likewise. Effective!
- "he lays [the sheep] on his shoulders and rejoices." Just love this image, as do others, evidenced by this imagery finding its way into so much artwork. It just seems like so much love pours through the shepherd carrying the sheep in this way.