Do you ever watch the news on television or read the newspaper and feel like weeping? In our tumultuous times, there are days when it is hard not to react that way to what is going on in the world. What I have learned over the years is that when that feeling of despair is creeping into my spirit, I could do no better than to turn to the words of the prophet Jeremiah. The reason for this is that Jeremiah lived in equally turbulent times—times when the culture and nation of Israel were collapsing all around him. In the midst of all of the trials and tribulations, Jeremiah refused to be in denial, speaking words of judgment (that never failed to get him in trouble with the authorities), and at the same time, offering a vision of a “new covenant” as a sign of hope for his people.
The other interesting thing about Jeremiah’s life and words was his tendency to use concrete objects and actions to symbolize his message. A potter’s wheel, a cracked cistern, the buying of a field, the building of houses, the planting of gardens—all of these and more are examples of everyday items and activities that Jeremiah used (or actually did) to make his points of evil, repentance, and faith. Beginning in mid-September, we will be exploring some of these timeless images in our worship services to see how they might speak to us in our own unsettling times. As Eugene Peterson has written:
“Anyone who lives in disruptive times looks for companions who have been through them earlier, wanting to know how they went through it, how they made it, what it was like. In looking for a companion who has lived through catastrophic disruption and survived with grace,…people more often than not come upon Jeremiah and receive him as a true, honest, and God-revealing companion for the worst of times.”
If you feel the need for a companion through your own disruptive times, I hope you will join us for these services as we journey with Jeremiah from despair to hope.