Just this afternoon someone asked me, “Why church?” meaning why do I continue in ministry when there are other things I could be doing?
My answer to this is simple. The church saved my life during my teenage years. If it was not for the members of the church of my childhood and its clergy, I wouldn’t have made it to adulthood. I’m not kidding or exaggerating. I was missing a sense of belonging and value and the church gave it to me. I belonged there. I was valued there. It was many years before I had a sense of God’s love for me. But I knew the people of that church loved me and wanted me there.
My relationship with the church as an adult has been far more challenging.
With these thoughts lingering in my head, I looked again at this week’s lectionary readings. Jeremiah was asked to purchase land so that the people of Israel would be assured that there would always be a place for them. When the siege ended and the captives returned, they would have a place in which to begin again.
The psalmist reminds us that God is our shelter, a refuge and will rescue us from all sorts of disasters. We will be saved.
In the difficult passage from Luke’s Gospel, there is a warning against ignoring our identity as people of God. If we do not pay attention to what our faith teaches, will we be convinced if someone rises from the dead?
God had Jeremiah seal a covenant in an earthenware jar so that the people of Israel would have a place to call home. We have Christ! We are the vessel of Christ’s covenant, the promise that there will always be a place for God’s people. Why do we act as if there is no promise? No place to return to? to call home? to grow? to begin again?
There is something powerful in this image of the jar, a promise we hold.
RCL – Year C – Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 29
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 with Psalm 91:1-6,14-16 or
Amos 6:1a, 4-7 with Psalm 146
1 Timothy 6:6-19