Are you ever curious about the scripture texts that become the foundation for the sermons that Pastor Linda preaches? Every Sunday morning, at 9:00 a.m. a few Central folk gather together to study the Bible together, specifically focusing on the text from which Pastor Linda will be preaching that day. Everyone is welcome to join us. We are adding another opportunity to reflect on those texts, each week, online. Three or four different Central members will contribute a short reflection on an upcoming sermon text. You are invited to read the text and their reflections and then add your own voice to the conversation, if you wish. The conversation will assist Pastor Linda in her sermon preparation and may help all of us to hear the Spirit speaking more clearly though the text and the preacher’s sermon. You may comment on the scripture reading or reply to an existing comment.

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 15, 2019: Jeremiah 2:4-13

Jeremiah 2:4-13 (NRSV)

4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the Lord:

What wrong did your ancestors find in me
 that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
6 They did not say, “Where is the Lord
 who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
 in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
 in a land that no one passes through,
 where no one lives?”
7 I brought you into a plentiful land
 to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land,
 and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
 Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers[a] transgressed against me;
 the prophets prophesied by Baal,
 and went after things that do not profit.

9 Therefore once more I accuse you,
says the Lord,
 and I accuse your children’s children.
10 Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
 send to Kedar and examine with care;
 see if there has ever been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
 even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
 for something that does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
 be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
 they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
 and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water.

(a)    Jeremiah 2:8 Heb shepherds

Bonita Braun

Traditionally prophets were called by God to get the attention of "The People of God." Jeremiah was a very reluctant prophet/messenger. However when he accepted the call he minced no words! In verse 4, he gets their attention: "Hear the word of the Lord!" and he goes on to say House of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel." That covers the generations present, ancestors, and future. Plain and blunt. You did not care for the land I gave you."

Verse 3 stands out for me as a warning that is relevant to today and from my own experience.

"My People have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water."

This verse stands out because we lived in Odessa, Texas, for thirteen really good years for us personally. The oil was not flowing like it used to, but there was an industry. We were there because of the Texas Tech Medical School Resident Training Program. I loved living there, but there were big cracks in our cistern because we were doing "evil," we were not taking care of living with the beautiful semi-arid land we lived on or the high desert so close to us. Today Oil is being extracted by fracking, which I am told is deafening on a daily basis and crumbling the streets (infrastructure) of Odessa. The crack is widening.

I do not think of myself as evil, but this passage is a call to me to be aware of the non-intentional evil we do, and to do repairs, to ad or change ways of living, to hold myself and the whole household including Government leaders in all countries accountable for the cracks in the cistern called earth.

[Bonita Braun writes: I” have been attending for a little over three years and a member for a little over two. I have been growing spiritually since the first Sunday I walked in and that is why I keep coming back!”]

Beth White

“My first reaction is: Wow, why did Bonita assign this one to me??? I mean, I am a lawyer so I guess all this stuff about “charges against you” and “those who deal with the law” makes some sense, but I’m really struggling with this passage. . . .

I first think about our relationship to this earth, Jeremiah talks about how the Lord brought us “into the fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable”

. . . which is really what we are doing with climate change and our pitiful stewardship of this earth. The Lord has provided all we need, but still we demand more, defile what we have with no regard for the future. And if this is not bad enough, Jeremiah writes that the Lord will “bring charges against you . . . and against your children’s children.” Not only must my generation be accountable, but many generations to follow. Things are going from bad to worse here. My selfishness will condemn my son and his children. But I don’t want that to be true! I want better for him and for those who come after him! It is too late?  

I guess at least I feel lucky to be a part of Central, where we “wrestle with deep questions of faith” about what kind of inheritance we are leaving to our children’s children, where our Green Chalice ministry works on our stewardship of the earth, and where our upcoming Capital Campaign will make sustainable improvements to our building. That seems like a modest start, but gives me hope.

[I am a mother, wife and lawyer, and proud to be a member of a place like Central.]