Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Weeping

Why do I avoid the book of Jeremiah the prophet? Too gloomy? Too pessimistic? Well you wouldn't be jumping for joy if you'd been treated like Jeremiah. Perhaps you have. I haven't. Or if you'd been given the message of coming judgement that pressed so heavily on Jeremiah's heart. Or you felt the grief he felt for his people. Here's some of how he expressed it:

"O that my head were a spring of water, 
and my eyes a fountain of tears, 
so that I might weep day and night 
for the slain of my poor people!"  Jeremiah 9.1


Rembrandt. Prophet Jermiah weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem
If you read more of that section, it becomes clear that this deep grief belongs to God. It's not only Jeremiah who suffered when, as he prophesied, he saw the destruction coming on his people, as a result of their unfaithfulness. It is God. Where is God when his warnings are ignored? Sitting at the bottom of the well grieving with Jeremiah. Does that mean God is impotent to save? Or that God's power is shown in the coming alongside as one of us? 


Where is God when it hurts? Weeping. Where is God when we choose a self-destructive sinful path? Longing for our return like the best of loving parents. Where is God when we are destroying each other? Showing us the Way of peace. And if we reject God's Way? Then that's our choice, but that rejection is the way that leads to death.


Like Jeremiah before him, Jesus also prophesied yet another destruction of Jerusalem. And like Jeremiah, he wept for its people.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 
the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! 
How often have I desired to gather your children together 
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, 
and you were not willing!"
Matthew 23: 37

This post is the 15th in a series of daily Lenten reflections based on one of the Bible readings from the Common Worship Lectionary of the Church of England. This one is based on Jeremiah 8.18 - 9.11

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