" Jeremiah Proclaims God’s Judgment on the Nation
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”
For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever."
On this, The Reign of Christ Sunday, the last Sunday of the Christian Year before we set out on an Advent journey, we pause to think again about the notion of kingship as Jesus modelled it.
Often the reading on this Sunday is the Matthew 25 passage -
for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
These verses underpin the work of Broken Chains.
A ministry that reaches out to the least of these.
In our reading this morning, the prophet Jeremiah urges us to amend our ways. And to truly act justly with one another.
This, after cautioning us not to hide away in our sanctuaries.
Spending time with God's people, hearing God's word, singing God's praise is not an end in itself. The time we spend here week by week, motivates us to go and serve God in our world.
But more than that, listening to God's word reminds us that, as well as being able to serve others, we can allow others to serve us.
Those on the margins of society today aren't there just so we can reach out and feel good about ourselves, feel that we're better Christians because we change the lives of others.
People existing on the margins of our society today are there because we subscribe to a system that is flawed at best and, often, is broken. While it may not be intentional on our part, our life style and our affluence is won at a cost to others. Spending time with those who have to turn to food banks. Spending time with those who have sought alternative life styles to help them cope with an unfair society teaches us some valuable lessons and reminds us of what is important in life.
So often, when we set out to "truly act justly" we find ourselves ministered to in ways we had never imagined.
But that goes against the grain.
"It is more blessed to give than to receive" has been drummed into us from early days that we've almost forgotten how to let others minister to us.
We're so used to being strong that we avoid any sign of weakness.
Yet God minsters to us through those we'd least expect when we own our vulnerability and when we open ourselves to the gifts of others.
Truly acting justly with one another!
May God show us this week how to minister and how to be ministered to.
For the glory of God.