Jeremiah’s efforts to reach the rebellious people of his generation remind me of the challenges faced by medical and public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeremiah tried again and again to call the people back to a position of health and well-being. But the people didn’t believe and insisted on their right to be out and about, without any protective measures, regardless of how their actions affected others.
The people in Jeremiah’s time preferred little gods they could hold and manipulate. They wanted the gods of other communities—such as those of the people in Cyprus to the west or those of the Kedar desert tribes to the northeast.
Jeremiah kept proclaiming that Yahweh is the one who would give them what they most longed for; but they had forsaken Yahweh. They turned down living water for cracked, empty cisterns.
During the 2020 pandemic, some people refused to follow the recommended safety precautions from infectious disease specialists. They quite literally adopted the “give me liberty or give me death” philosophy. Their desire for the freedom to do whatever they wanted pulled them away from practices that would protect them and contribute to public safety.
In Jeremiah’s day people chose the impotent gods of their neighbors over worshiping the omnipotent Yahweh of their ancestors. Empty promises lured them away from life-enhancing choices and toward life-diminishing consequences.
Yet God would not give up on them. Again and again God sent Jeremiah to invite the people to return to Yahweh.
God of infinite patience, thank you for continuing to call us back to a life-giving relationship with you. Amen.
Jeremiah had the unenviable task of speaking truth to power. While others were proclaiming how good things were, he was called and compelled to insist things were not all that great. The people kept ignoring Yahweh’s persistent invitations to abandon their pseudo-gods and focus on Yahweh. The theme of God’s hospitality continues in our texts from Hebrews as the author reminds readers that when we extend a genuine welcome to strangers, we may actually be hosting the Lord God. Luke picks up the hospitality thread by proposing a radical new way of deciding whom to include. He extends God’s compassion for all humanity by suggesting that we start our invitation lists with those who would not typically be included. God’s central message to humans through the centuries, through the scriptures, and most certainly through Christ, is consistent: You, personally, are invited to be God’s precious guest on the journey through life.
Read Jeremiah 2:4-9. When have you needed to tell authority figures that something was wrong? Where did you find your courage to deliver the message?
Read Psalm 81. What treasured traditions do you have in your family or with your friends?
Read Hebrews 13:15-16. Where do you observe people going out of their way to show compassion to others? Where have you received unsolicited kindness?
Read Luke 14:12-14. When have you extended hospitality to someone who couldn’t pay you back?
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