Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Safe in Jerusalem

Safe in Jerusalem
Jeremiah 33:14-16

My brother reached between the seat and the wall of the school bus. When he withdrew his hand, he had 40 dollars. Sitting next to him, I witnessed this miracle of abundance. Immediately, I began to plan how I would spend my portion of the money--an interesting assumption in itself. In my revelry, I was startled as my brother shoved his way by me, and to my horror, walked to the bus driver, handed the money to her, and announced that he had found the money between the seat and the wall.

The next morning, once again on the bus, we were sitting outside Newville Elementary School waiting for the bell. A young woman, impressive, because she was a high school student, boarded the bus. We watched as she spoke to the bus driver. After a brief conversation, the bus driver pointed to my brother. This young woman walked back the aisle of the bus, said "Hi" to my brother, and said "thank you" to him for finding her money and giving it to the bus driver. Then, she handed my brother a 5 dollar bill. The smile on my brother's face was huge.

There is great joy in doing the right thing and receiving both a thank you for that action, but also to get a reward. Would we, however, consider doing the right thing without a reward, and not even a word of appreciation from the other person? It would take, I think, a heart committed to and naturally inclined to do what is right.

Bernard Anderson, in his text on the Old Testament, captures the moment for Jeremiah. The king of Judah, Josiah, was bringing about great reforms among the people. These reforms were being carried on a wave of nationalism. The people believed themselves to be on the threshold of a new time, similar in scope to that of King David.

The people, however, are shocked b a series of event: King Josiah dies. The nation of Judah falls. Close to half the population is led in to exile. Into this moment, many prophets were flourishing among the people as they promised comfort, peach, and that soon all would go back to the good old days.

Jeremiah was not one of those prophets. His prophecy, the problems the people were encountering were a problem of the heart that has led to false trust in institutions and worship of idols. They did not have hearts turned to doing what is right. The situation in which they found themselves was a result of false hearts.

This week, we will explore:
            1. God's judgment that makes doing what is right possible.
            2. Deceitful hearts and the need for more than self-awareness.
            3. Humility and courage in the face of head wrestling.

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