Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jeremiah questions

Jeremiah was a brave man. I'm not at all sure I'm like him.
In Judah, in Jeremiah’s time, there were two rival views of God’s relation to His people.
The first was certain that God would protect and champion His people no matter what. Had God not made promises to David and Solomon? Their house (dynasty) would not fail and God’s house (temple) would stand forever as a sign of this protection. Scribes, psalmists, even prophets, had expressed this belief in their writings. Judah’s rulers promoted it.
By Jeremiah’s day it was seen as treason to contradict it.
But Jeremiah stood against this view. Standing in a prophetic tradition that went back to Moses, he insisted that what counted was faithfulness to God expressed in lives of justice.
It was no good quoting the bible’s promises or relying on systems of worship if God’s heart was being ignored. Bravely, Jeremiah stood in the temple itself to declare this.
Jesus stood in the same prophetic tradition. In His day, He also stood in the temple, quoting Jeremiah as He condemned it as having come to stand for a false, even idolatrous, security for Israel. This was a key reason He was sent to His death.
Ironically, through that very death, Jesus was also the fulfilment of the promises made through David and Solomon: in His resurrection and ascension, He founded a house – His church – that would endure forever.
As so often with the bible I'm left asking myself some searching questions.
 In what ways might we misuse the bible to back up our wrong or self-seeking views?
What have we built - literally or theologically - that God may need to dismantle? Am I prepared to put radical trust of God ahead of even those things I and others have built in what we thought was faithfulness?
How can we express God’s heart for justice today in a way that cuts through all my and our and your agendas and reaches the real thing?
God help me be more like brave, prophetic, heretical, traitorous, faithful Jeremiah.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A little prayer that makes use of big words (not entirely seriously)

May Your omnipotence make up for our incompetence
Your omnipresence annul our non-attendance
(Your omniscience atone for my F in science?)
Amen.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Flight MH17 - a poem

In memory of Sister Philomene Tiernan, who I never met

'Her entire existence was to bring good into this world'
said your pupil
the day after you were taken out of this world.

In the heavens above Eastern Ukraine you were shot
down with the others in a not-quite war
in not-quite Russian airspace.
We cannot quite take it in.
It is not quite real.
Not quite
real
.

But you were real
and you are real

Sister Philomene.
Did you pray for those sinners in the hour of your death?
I expect you did.
'She seemed like a grandma that everyone just loved'
said another.
'She taught people that faith in God,
in themselves, and in the world
would carry them through the journey.'

As you ascend with those 298 souls
dear sister, grandmother, good-bringer,
pray for us - who are left behind.


(Read the news story in the Huffington Post here.)