This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
9 Therefore once more I accuse you,
says the Lord,
and I accuse your children’s children.
10 Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has ever been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for something that does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
that can hold no water.
There are at least two extraordinary creations in the book of Jeremiah, regardless of arguments about its history and authorship: the voices of Jeremiah and his God. Anyone who has tried to verbalise his/her own life of faith, will know how hard it is to make real to others the substance of a relationship with God. The author of Jeremiah creates two voices. Jeremiah’s which is passionate, angry and expressive of betrayed love; and God’s which is passionate, angry and expressive of betrayed love. In articulating God’s rejection by his own people Jeremiah enters into an experience of rejection by his own people and, as he feels, of betrayal by God.
God’s accusation precisely characterises all forms of idolatry: they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns, that can hold no water. That describes my own idolatries down the years: they were my own creations and they didn’t work.
John Chapter 4: 46-54
46 Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ 49The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ 50Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. 51As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ 53The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. 54Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.
At all stages in his story the author of John’s gospel wants to depict Jesus as the bearer of life: he is life as opposed to death and all the other gifts he brings-wine as opposed to water sight as opposed to blindness and so on- are ultimately included in this. He is Life, the very Life of God declaring itself as also the Life of humanity if only people will trust in it. Jesus demands the father’s trust in this story by sending him away. He will not perform a miracle to order, but he is the source of life for the little boy.
So when people come to Jesus saying, “Stop Gaddafi,” he does not immediately produce the miracle of several billion pounds of airplanes and armaments to kick ass in Libya. He sends them away, saying “Learn to trust in the power of life,” which sounds crazy but only because as nations we have never done it. If we seriously made the attempt to trust and use the forces of life-of ecological justice, peace and fruitfulness- we would not be impotent in the face of gangsters like Gaddafi. Our impotence is shown by our use of his weapons. We have forsaken the fountain of living waters and dug ourselves cracked cistern that hold no water.