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July 18, 2010, Jeremiah 1

This sermon started as a mass of rather technical and very tedious notes.  I left it on Wednesday, and spent the next two days on a scripture-reading retreat, returning with the certain knowledge that scripture is a lot of things, but never, ever dull.  So on Saturday morning I re-wrote everything as a monologue by 'Bruce' who has a kiwi accent that breaks beer bottles at 100 paces, and wears a slouchy old hat, which I then removed (along with the accent) and replaced with a prayer shawl to read the words of Jeremiah in vs.s 4 - 10 of Ch. 1.  Then we prayed together, and I asked the questions that followed, pointing people to the verses to which they referred.  In the very last section, the question "How does Jeremiah's ministry of destruction and rebuilding apply to us?" got very specific and I spoke about how we have felt destruction through so many deaths and departures recently (several families have left the area to look for work), and how God's promise to us is to rebuild and to plant, and how our task is to 'Gird up our Loins' or, as my sister-in-law has it "put your big girl pants on and get on with it."
In reading the following, don't forget that awful nasal twang...

spose you’ve heard ‘bout young Jerry?

Pity, really, but guess he can’t really be blamed;

like, he comes from a bit of a religious family,

but who’d have thought he’d go so nutty.

Practically fundamentalist. 

Or at least, mental!

Thinks he’s on ‘a mission from God’!

I blame the politicians.

That young fella, Josh, starting to throw his weight around at the palace.

He was all right when he first came to power;

listening to his advisors,

and just letting people get on with business,

But now he’s had his 21st birthday and thinks he’s got the keys to the city.

Well, he has, I guess, - he is king after all.

But still,

Y’ can’t carry on as king if you muck around with the people too much,

and here he is, saying that the festivals have got to stop!

What’s wrong with a bit of a party?!

And why not have a few prostitutes working for the temples –

keeps religion interesting, doesn’t it?

And you can’t get too much religion, can yer?

And I know that it can get a bit disturbing down in the Hinom valley

when they’re burning the babies,

but it takes all sorts, doesn’t it?

And you don’t have to go and listen to the screaming if you don’t want to.

No one’s going to make you go and worship Molech.

Matter of fact, I think he’s doing us a bit of a favour!

Cos it’s mostly the desperate people who worship Molech, innit?

Poor people.

And since they’ve started burning their kids

well, there’s fewer of them

and that means fewer problems for the rest of us.

Less crime in the streets.

No, I reckon King Josh needs to keep his nose out of this religion business,

and young Jerry, well, hard to tell a priest to stay out of religion

but he doesn’t need to go off the deep end about it!

He actually stood up the other day

and told us all that God had spoken to him!

Like he was some sort of Joseph or Elijah or something!

What was it he said? Oh yes, I remember….

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;

for you shall go to all to whom I send you,

and you shall speak whatever I command you.

8 Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you,

        says the Lord.”

9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.

10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,

to pluck up and to pull down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant.”[1]

God says that his relationship with Jeremiah,

his plans for him and his call to him

was before his conception and birth. 

What do we get from human birth?

(family, inheritance, genetics, body shape, dis/abilities)

God’s call is more important than all that. 

What did Jeremiah feel when God called him?

(Inadequate 1.6, and fear, 1.8)

What does God give Jeremiah

to take away his feelings of inadequacy and fear?

His sending & his command/authority (1.7),

his presence, his salvation (1.8),

his word (1.9)

His consecration/appointment (1.5,10)

How many of God’s gifts to Jeremiah do we have in Jesus?

What was the specific task to Jeremiah?

Destruction, followed by rebuilding.(1.10)

How does this apply to our present situation?

The last word: “17 But you, gird up your loins; ..., for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.”

[1]The New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1989.