In today’s lesson from Jeremiah, God is raising up Jeremiah to warn his people one last time to return to him, and to abandon their false Gods. And God warns Jeremiah that his will be a painful, difficult task, full of opposition. But he also says that he will give him power and make him as strong as iron.
Prophets are dangerous people. They remind us that the world we live in physically unstable place. The politics of our world are unstable. And as we’ve seen, the economies of our world are unstable.
The prophets among us remind us that the only real stability is found in God. They call attention to our sins, and our flaws. And they remind us that God is not above using the instability around us, physical, political, and economic, to shake us and call us to return
In 1972, I heard a young wild eyed Pentecostal preacher. I’d never actually been to a service with a real live revival preacher. It was different from TV. It was also more discomforting because I knew that the person preaching was not a fake, but a genuine believer. I was not.
This preacher had some very uncomfortable things to say to people like me, who were drug addicts, and hedonists. It was not vindictive, but it was passionate. It sounded and felt prophetic. It was the beginning of me seriously searching for God.
I’d sensed the same power when I’d heard Martin Luther King on the radio or TV. I’d heard it occasionally in my own church. It was not volume, or passion, but some intangible reality, where I sensed that the preacher had some unseen power.
Now I know that the power I sense in these “prophets” is something God gives to them. They see a future where God’s kingdom is becoming a reality, and they challenge us to live like that now.
May God give us grace to look at the instability of our world, and realize that God allows things we think are stable to be shaken. He reminds us that the only thing that cannot be moved is God. And when we are called to be the prophets may we have grace to do our work with boldness and charity.
This prayer is from the second Sunday of Advent, but it fits well for the second week of Lent.
Second Sunday of Advent
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.