1st Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10 & Psalm 71
We have been given an amazing gift! The gift of life in miraculous bodies on this beautiful planet that supplies all our needs.
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we didn’t just happen here by chance – but that something called “God” created us and has known us from before we were born!
“In you, O Lord, I take refuge…..Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress.” I have a card on my dresser mirror at home that says these things. God is my refuge, my fortress, my strength in times of trouble. Who is God to you? If I asked you privately, I am sure I would get many different answers – as each of us has internalized an idea, an image of God that will not be exactly the same as another.
And that is why you often hear me refer to God as “the God of many names”. Two weeks ago some of us watched the movie “the Shack”. God in this movie appears as a black middle-aged woman to a man who had been horribly abused by his father. The suggestion was that God appears or appeals to us in different ways depending on our own situation, our history, and our personal need.
I personally know and have experienced the POWER of God – without any attached image of God. And I have experienced the great and unconditional LOVE of God thru my personal relationship with Jesus. So these are the ways that I know about God. Your experience is undoubtedly different from mine in the details at least. We are different. Our lives take on different trajectories that are known to God. We are all guided by that presence of God in some form that we recognize, that acts on and in our lives for our greatest good.
Hymn #644 VU “I was there to hear your borning cry”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 & Luke 4:21-30
The reading from first Corinthians is one I often use, as many ministers do, in wedding ceremonies. Paul felt it necessary, in this letter to the early church at Corinth, to describe for these early converts the precise nature of the great love that Jesus came to teach us about. It doesn’t hurt any of us to be reminded of what exactly we are talking about when we refer to God’s love for all of Creation, Jesus’ love for all humanity, and our professed love for one another, especially in marriage.
What is interesting, too, in this discourse, is what is not described – what is NOT love. Chasing after status within the group, discrimination against those considered “unworthy”, and the self-righteous pursuit of revenge, were all issues of concern to Paul, prompting him to write this letter.
It’s not easy to have your old world turned upside down. Changing our old ways of thinking and doing things is never without challenge and push-back. And this is what Jesus experienced in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth. He told them that perhaps they were not the loving and helpful people they thought they were – that perhaps they did need to be set free, but that vengeance was not God’s way. The implication that perhaps they had a lot to learn from him did not go over well – especially as they knew him as Joseph the carpenter’s son – not as an inspired teacher – a messenger from God.
And so – in a fit of mob rage and violence – they tried to kill him. But you can repress and manipulate the truth sometimes – but you can never kill it. The truth of who we are as children of God cannot be suppressed forever. Thanks be to Jesus for telling us the truth that sets us free.
Hymn #333 VU “Love divine, all loves excelling”