The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah at a crucial time in the life of his people. They live in the ever-lengthening shadow of the Babylonian empire, which looms as a serious threat. In a very short time the Babylonians will overtake, conquer, and scatter Jeremiah’s people. Into this grave situation God speaks to the prophet about the impending circumstances of the people.
In life’s darkest scenarios, our Lord has decided to speak. As with Jeremiah, this word will address the particulars of our life situation. The first and most important decision of discipleship is God’s decision. “The word of the Lord came . . . ” is in and of itself a phrase full of promise and hope. God has chosen to initiate the contact. In the midst of our lives, when chaos threatens to overwhelm and conquer us, the word of the Lord comes. In the midst of our questions, our doubts, and our fears of the future, the word of the Lord comes. It may come as a word of challenge or a word of comfort. It may come as a word of direction or a word of discipline. It may come as a word that checks us or a word that consoles us. As in this scripture, the word may contain specific instructions. So we express gratitude and give thanks because the word of the Lord came.
When I first moved away from home, my father’s phone bill had to be the highest of anyone in the area. I couldn’t afford to call home, so he called me almost every night. More than once I said to my dad, “I’ve been waiting to hear from you.” His voice was the voice I needed and longed to hear.
You may be waiting to hear from God. Whatever your current life situation, you may rest assured that God has made the decision to offer the word that you need to meet your every need.
Lord, I am grateful that you speak the word I need, even when life renders me speechless. Amen.
The Gospel lesson stresses the cost of disci- pleship. One of the costs involves family, but the implication is that there are compensations as well as costs. Belonging to God affects the way in which one belongs to others. Traditional pat- terns, kinship and otherwise, are transformed. This insight lies at the heart of Paul’s letter to Philemon concerning Philemon’s slave, Onesimus. Without directly requesting that Philemon set Onesimus free, Paul clearly suggests that the ties that bind per- sons as brothers and sisters in Christ transform traditional social patterns, including slavery. Both Jeremiah 18 and Psalm 139 af rm our belongingness to God, individually and corporately.
• Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. How has the “word of the Lord” come to you? What obstacles prevent you from placing your- self entirely in God’s hands?
• Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. How does your life evidence God’s handiwork?
• Read Philemon 1-21. What person or group needs your advocacy in the name of Christ?
• Read Luke 14:25-33. How have you counted the cost of fol- lowing Jesus?
Respond by posting a prayer.