Thursday, February 25, 2010

25 February 2010

Jeremiah 29:1-32

This is a favourite. This scripture is basically, a bloom where you are planted scripture.

Society in the USA particularly needs to hear this scripture. To set it in context, Babylon has conquered Jerusalem, taken the King captive and brought many of the Jews to Babylon. Jeremiah writes this letter telling them to pray for the king, and to get on with their lives, that in God's time (70 years) they will be restored to Jerusalem.

Today, one of the most insidious sins is covetousness. Oh, if I had a better job, I would be happy. If I had a Cadillac, I would be happy, etc, etc. ad nauseum. In this time of Lent, when we are all hopefully fasting, we should be looking at what truly makes us happy. I have seen people eating, who were miserable, because they were not eating what they wanted. I have also seen people whose appetite is spoiled because there is too much food on the table. C.S. Lewis describes the first problem in a wonderful manner in his novel, Perelandra,

So what is covetousness? Is it wrong to want a better house, or car, etc? Clearly no. The secret though is not to make these things our goal in life. When we were house hunting, there were just a couple of details I was interested in. It had to be above the flood line, and it had to be set up with a room we could use as a chapel, and a decent dining room. Did I have to have these things to be happy? No, but we needed them if we were to use our house as a home church, which it still is, though still small. Will we want such a house later. Probably not, I'll be happy with a small two bedroom house with a large dining room for children, grandchildren, and guests. My house is not my goal, but a means to working for the kingdom.

And my car? Well, I have two, a 1995 Olds Sierra, which will get its windows fixed this afternoon. Is it beautiful or elegant? Not really, but it gets me where I want to go. If someone gave me a million tomorrow, would I sell it and buy another? Probably not (although I would like an Aptera), I'd probably just finish a few more minor repairs. My other car, sadly doesn't get me where I want to go, and God willing, it will be repaired some day, but the car is not important. The getting there that is.

God wants us to learn to be thankful for what we have. The Word Eucharist, which we use for the Holy Communion comes from the Greek, Ευχαριστο, which means thanks or thanksgiving. Are you thankful for your spouse, your car, your house, your food, your job? God wants us to learn to be thankful for what we have. People in Haiti are happy just to be alive. Most of you who will read this live a standard of living that most Haitians could only dream about even before the earthquake.

Could our circumstances be better? Maybe yes, maybe no. Can we learn from them. Many would say it was the circumstances of the captivity in Babylon which was the crucible which formed the Jews. In fact I would say that myself. It was in Babylon that the Jews realised that they must depend on God and learned to obey him. In fact during the 70 years of captivity in Babyolon, it seems they learned more than in the prior 600 or so years of being the Kingdom of Judah.

Are your circumstances tough? Don't focus on them, focus on the relationships, especially with God. Allow those circumstances to guide you in developing a relaationship with God, and your family. Be thankful, and learn to have joy in Jesus. Your circumstances may not change, but your perception of them will.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

15 Februart 2010

I am just getting more and more behind. Three doctor's appointments today, two yesterday. Too many sick people in the house.

Sunday's lesson from Jeremiah is most important to the modern church. It is a warning about false prophets. False prophets are dangerous, because they lead us astray. In the time of the lesson from Jeremiah, the false prophets are telling the people not to worry, that God will deliver them in two years. Jeremiah counteracts these prophecies and warns the people this will be a long captivity, and Babylon will prevail.

The danger and mark of false prophets is that they do not call us to repent. The people of Israel didn't need to repent, because God was going to deliver them. They didn't need to worry. God doesn't ever punish his people and they will always come out ahead. Do you know false prophets who speak this way?

Jeremiah and all true prophets for that matter spend a lot of time condemning sin, and calling people to repent.

Are you being told how wonderful it all is, and that you are welcomed by God just as you are, or are you being called to repent and allow God to transform your life. While it is true, God loves you as you are, the point of salavation is that we repent of what we were, and allow God to transform us into the image of Jesus his soon. This is an excellent thought to hold to as we begin this first week of Lent.