1st Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 & Psalm 79
Did you ever wonder where the term “don’t be such a Jeremiah” came from? Well, these readings during this Season of Creation certainly convey a mood of gloom and doom, an accusatory tone that is hard to ignore. The prophet Jeremiah continues in this vein, as he openly mourns for the people of God, the people of Israel.
He says, “My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick.” And then, “the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
Along with many of you, I’m sure, I watched in awe and wonder as millions of children and youth took to the streets of big cities all over the world on Saturday, to demand action on climate change. They seem to know what we will not acknowledge; that the summer of our life on earth has ended, and we have taken in the harvest far too greedily, and our survival here on the beautiful planet Earth, as a result, is in jeopardy. God has not, and will not save us from the consequences of our poor choices.
The psalmist says, “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” A friend of mine from long ago called yesterday and said this to me: “What if we all stopped pretending?” Pretending we can’t read the signs? Pretending we don’t know that what we are doing is not sustainable? Pretending that dishonest politics is the only way to govern this country? Pretending that free market capitalism will take care of us all? Pretending that unlimited, unregulated growth of both our economies and our populations is in any way realistic, given the finite fragility of our planet?
I saw a picture on the news a few days ago, a quick news item about the sale of a toilet…. A solid gold toilet that was made for Winston Churchill. It reminded me of some of the comments made recently by our Prime Minister about the privilege of the rich and powerful, and for many, their complete lack of understanding of the needs of others less fortunate.
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake….let your compassion come speedily to meet us.”
Hymn #12 MV “Come touch our hearts”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7 & Luke 16:1-13
Paul’s letter to Timothy exhorts him to pray for all those in authority, so that the rest of us might live in peace, in godliness and dignity.
Acknowledging that those in power have the power to make our lives miserable is a start, I can agree. Praying for them to be wise and compassionate leaders can’t hurt. But in these times we need to do more – much more. We need to hold our leaders to account. We could demand of them good character and integrity. We might expect of them a certain model of dignity, godliness, and calm assurance of their responsibility to the people they govern.
Shrewd. Our leaders should be – must be shrewd! It’s a strange word for Jesus to use, but use it he did. It actually means to act with foresight. It means those who govern must be called upon to look ahead – to anticipate what is coming down the road towards them and to take appropriate action.
It means our leaders must expect to govern today for many generations into the future – not to ensure themselves of re-election and a return to power and privilege. In this time of an election campaign, we could ask our leaders about these things – how are they planning to care for the health of the planet, the future home of their own children and grandchildren? We must ask them how are they modelling for our young people what is good and admirable in the halls of government?
And even so, we must remember the Christian values that have guided our own lives for many generations: generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and faith in our ability to learn and to make better choices. We are, after all, children of a loving God, creative beings with a spiritual calling to work with God to realize the kingdom of God in all things and in all places.
And we all know this one: the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.
God expects us to learn to make better choices, and Jesus died to show us how to do that.
Hymn #508 VU “Just as I am without one plea”