The book of Jeremiah begins with Jeremiah’s reasons why he was unsuited for prophetic ministry. He was just a young man. He felt unwise in the ways of the world and also unable to speak eloquently to the kings, priests, and rulers to whom God would send him. How many of us have felt this way in the first weeks of a new job, when we do not yet know all our co-workers or how things are done in this new setting?
But God will have none of Jeremiah’s protestations. Pointedly, God does not say that Jeremiah is qualified, skilled, or mature. Instead, God simply informs Jeremiah not to dwell on his lack of experience, but to acknowledge that Jeremiah will go everywhere and say everything that God intends.
Friends, not many of us are called to prophetic ministries like Jeremiah. And yet, God does have words for us to say, places for us to go, and deeds of loving-kindness for us to fulfill. To focus on our own shortcomings and uneasiness is to miss the invitation to a journey with the One who knew us before we were born and prepared righteousness for us to fulfill—if we will but begin the journey.
The writer of the letter to the Ephesians was no doubt familiar with Jeremiah and other prophets like him who were not sure of God’s call and what answering that call meant for their lives. In Ephesians 2:10, he writes, “We are what [God] has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
As we begin, or restart, our journeys with you, remind us, O God, that your grace is sufficient for us. Amen.
The readings in Jeremiah and Psalm 71 are repeated in a pair from earlier in the year (January 24–30). They describe the authors’ confidence that God has had plans for their lives since even before they were born. God similarly knows each one of us and has a calling on our lives. The reading in Hebrews gives us confidence in the permanence of the kingdom of God, to which we have access through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are not to take this lightly; we should worship God with due respect. In a synagogue on the sabbath, Jesus teaches a lesson about mercy. When he encounters a woman in need, he places her need above religious regulations. If religious traditions trump mercy, then our priorities are out of alignment.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. How can you trust God to empower you to follow God’s call? How can you encourage others to live into their calling?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. How can you continually praise God as your refuge?
Read Hebrews 12:18-29. How do you discern what is required of you in praising God in the new covenant?
Read Luke 13:10-17. How do you observe the sabbath now? What sabbath practice might you start that puts God’s reign into action?
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