Saturday, September 10, 2016
Pinched online, carelessly without grabbing the source, now apologetically as cannot cite credit: "We are challenged to behold the evil we wreak and to see the desolation of our mountains, our skies, our wildlife, our once-green spaces, our cities, and our human beings. If we have difficulty imagining that something is wrong, Jeremiah asks us to look again, more closely and more critically. We are called to sit in heaven’s darkness and hear the weeping of the earth (Jeremiah 4:28). If we are willing to forsake our stubborn foolishness, we might comprehend how we have betrayed our divine commission to be custodians of God’s creation, and humbly ask God and one another how to do good in the sight of God (4:22)."
Lesson for Sunday, September 11, 2016
11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse,
12 Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.
“For my people are foolish,
they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
but do not know how to do good.”
I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation;
yet I will not make a full end.
Because of this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
I have not relented nor will I turn back.
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
From online, my view but words more apt, “The preacher who chooses to preach this passage has no easy task. Walter Brueggemann calls it a ‘dangerous poem,’ and rightly so. It portrays a people without sense and a world without order, overcome by human evil and the anger of God.”
My issue with “the anger of God” is its evident impotence, that gives rise to arrogant human so-God-is-angry,-so-what-ness. Already generations behind us and fading from remembrance, countless centuries and millennia may pass before a more vivid illustration of dispassionate divine absence appears on our screen than the German Holocaust, observant Jews crying out “where is God?” as they watch a nine-year-old boy hanged to strangle, jerking, twitching, helpless, and now a swinging corpse, twisting under vacant blue heavens, realize that they are looking at God, millions upon millions of God over and again, executed not in spite of his innocence but solely because of his innocence.
Brueggemann points out that Jeremiah’s poem is a progressive undoing of creation, “decreation” from human evil, walking through the process of Genesis One and extinguishing all that is, seen and unseen, to erase what God sees has been done with his chesed.
No earth, no light, no dry land, no firmament, no people, no garden, lovingkindness itself is wiped away in the darkness as even the heavens return to nihilo. The raging fury of God at our treatment of all that is, even widows and orphans.
Here's the story Jeremiah sees God erasing:
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis1 KJV)
I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Then I repented of my sins;
And won the victory.
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood
And God saw that it was evil, and ceased speaking, and it was not so; indeed never had been, old, old stories erased from the mind of God.
I don't know what else to say
1. dawning from 7H 20160910
2. “Children in a Democracy” D. Lange, 1940, Vanderbilt Library
3. E M Bartlett Senior
Posted by Tom Weller at 9:31 AM