Bountiful Spirit - March 11, 2021
This command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward. From the day that your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; yet they did not listen to me, or pay attention, but they stiffened their necks. They did worse than their ancestors did.
So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. You shall say to them: This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
Reflection by Barrie Carter Gibby
The tensions of this year’s explosive daily news of disease, death, unemployment, climate extremes, home and food-insecure families, shameful cultural injustices, and political corruption and unrest are the collective Sisyphus rock that falls back toward us again and again. Just to face the day, we keep our guard up and “stiffen our necks”.
Jeremiah reminds us that leading our lives without God at the helm is not following the commandments of obedience. “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people”. . . Another translation reads, “Hearken to my voice. . .” It’s a direct request, dismissively answered too often by the display of the “idols and burnt offerings” of closed ears, hardened hearts, stiff necks and muted lips.
What precedes these verses is the reminder that God brought the ancestors out of Egypt, NOT commanding them to have burnt offerings. The successive passages state the dramatic threat that God will bring death to the whole valley of idolaters, where human carcasses become food for the birds. Is this an angry, vengeful God?
It is synchronistic that we have, as a nation and people, not obeyed the voice of God. “Truth has perished,” writes Jeremiah, a sad demise.
But I believe the forgiving Jesus holds our tentative hands, lifts us up, softens our hearts and necks, inclines our ears and eyes, touches our lips to speak out, and offers us courage to stay attentive to the voice of God, away from alternative “idols” that bring us down and take away our hope. That is the Jesus I choose to follow.