Saturday, August 28, 2010

breaking God's yoke

Good morning brothers and sisters,
I'd like to begin our reading with a reminder about our ecumenical worship service at the Rochester Airport tomorrow morning at 10 am to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and to mark the beginning of our latest rebuilding trip. It should be an exciting service with elements of confession, renewal and comfort. See the website for more details.

Today's reading continues God's sorrow for Israel. Here we see a return to images of infidelity, an important image in several of the prophets for the way Israel has betrayed God's love. Jeremiah portrays Israel as responding to God's accusation with a mixture of guilt and denial. On the surface that seems like a strange combination, at the same time I think in my own life I sometimes feel above accusations like this, denying that I have gone astray. Other times I feel guilty for not following God the way I want to, and that guilt can separate me further from God because I am ashamed of how I have wasted so many opportunities.

A sense of guilt is useful when it reminds us of our failures and leads us back to God, but often it's the guilt itself that makes us feel like we can't be right with God and even makes us turn away further out of a sense of despair. The truth is that no matter what we've done, God loves us and wants us to come back home. God gives us the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit gives us the strength to turn back and choose the right path again. We break God's yoke and choose selfishness over service, but time and again Jesus calls us back saying, "Come to me you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly. My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

God bless,

Jeremiah 2:20-28
20For long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds, and you said, “I will not serve!” On every high hill and under every green tree you sprawled and played the whore. 21Yet I planted you as a choice vine, from the purest stock. How then did you turn degenerate and become a wild vine? 22Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, says the Lord God. 23How can you say, “I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals”? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done— a restive young camel interlacing her tracks, 24a wild ass at home in the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.

25Keep your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, “It is hopeless, for I have loved strangers, and after them I will go.” 26As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed— they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets, 27who say to a tree, “You are my father,” and to a stone, “You gave me birth.” For they have turned their backs to me, and not their faces. But in the time of their trouble they say, “Come and save us!” 28But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them come, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.

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