When I was growing up, my father often called me “my Bethie.” No one else was allowed to use a diminutive form of my name, much less with a possessive pronoun, but I loved it when he did. I felt secure in his claim, a loving promise that I would always be his. And I wanted to live into that claim by making him proud of me.
When I read Jeremiah’s account, I’m struck by the way God refers to Israel. God had distanced God’s self from them before; after the golden calf incident, God called them “your [Moses’] people” (see Exodus 32:7). But here, in spite of the people’s sin, God invokes the covenant relationship, calling Israel “my people.” Although destruction is coming, the covenant still stands, and God promises not to “make a full end.”
The psalmist leans on God’s claim too. The lament ends with a prayer of hope, looking toward a day when God will redeem and restore God’s people, and they will rejoice.
The prophet and the psalmist remind us that even when we wander far from God, God’s promises still stand. Yes, God is the refuge of the poor, the oppressed, the victims of injustice, and those left behind. But even when we are privileged, powerful, and strong, God promises to hear when we call. It may mean laying down some of our independence, our wealth, or our power—or using our resources for the benefit of others rather than ourselves. But God continues to offer a better way: a path of covenant, a path of rebuilding cities and restoring nature, a path of dismantling and replacing unjust systems. And that way, God’s way, is the way of life.
God, I marvel at your claim on my life. Give me the courage to confess my sin and turn toward your love. Give me the courage to live into a covenant life with you. Amen.
Jeremiah’s warning of coming judgment continues. The children of Israel have become foolish, have ignored God, and have become good mainly at doing evil. God is going to respond to this situation. The psalmist describes the state of all who are foolish: They deny God and follow their own corrupt desires, including oppressing the poor. The author of First Timothy, traditionally Paul, says that this was also his former way of life. He has been foolish and ignorant, a persecutor of the followers of Christ. In fact, he had been the worst of all sinners; yet Christ has shown him mercy, not judgment. Jesus tells two parables to reveal God’s heart. Rather than neglecting the ignorant, the foolish, and the lost, God searches to find each one of us.
Read Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28. How do your actions show others that you know God?
Read Psalm 14. When have you, like the psalmist, felt that no one knows God? How did you have faith that God would restore God’s people?
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Recall a time when you felt unworthy of Christ’s full acceptance. How has that experience made you more grateful for Christ’s mercy?
Read Luke 15:1-10. In a world full of death and violence, how do you rejoice when God finds one lost person?
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