Shortly after beginning work for Chevrolet, I received an e-mail from one of my college professors who reminded me of the old adage that “what’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” GM’s prosperity indicated a thriving national economy; it was also his way of encouraging my work.
The prophet Jeremiah has a similar message for the people of God in exile: What’s good for Babylon is good for Israel. Their welfare is bound up in the welfare of the place of their exile. Thus, God calls them to make Babylon a good place to live.
We still discover that our well-being is tied up in the well-being of others. God created us to need, give, serve, and desire—together, in community. Instinctively, we know that our steady connection to family, friends, and neighbors affects our well-being. And we affect the well-being of others when we are present in their moments of joy and need.
What often remains hidden to us, however, is our tie to the well-being of the invisible in our community. We are no less connected to the homeless person on the corner we drive past every day than we are to the person sitting in the pew next to us. Our link to the abandoned, the poor, the marginalized, and the forgotten exists, but we have forgotten it. Seeking the welfare of the seen and the unseen in our communities offers unique challenges because we must reach outside the boundaries of our daily lives. Yet as the story of God’s people tells us, in seeking good for others we can live the good life ourselves.
How is God calling you to make your community a better place? Who or what could benefit from your attention?
Lord, show us the people who need to be seen. Empower us to serve in your name that we may brighten the world with your light. Amen.
One might have expected Jeremiah to advise the exiles to maintain their independence and be ready to return to Judah. Instead, he tells them to settle in, to build and plant, to seek the welfare of Babylon, even to pray for its prosperity. The judging purposes of God call for extended exile and not impa- tient rebellion. In the story of the ten lepers in Luke, one returns to praise and thank Jesus for giving him health. Only then do we learn that he is a Samaritan. The ultimate outsider becomes the model of faith. Second Timothy bears witness to the awe- some character of God that always honors divine commitments, thereby appearing to humans full of surprises. For the psalmist, God merits the worship of all the earth.
• Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you found yourself in exile? How did you cope with the situation? What reminded you that God had not abandoned you?
• Read Psalm 66:1-12. When has the testing of God brought you out to “a spacious place”?
• Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you ready yourself to pres- ent yourself as one approved by God?
• Read Luke 17:11-19. The writer states that Jesus’ question, “Where are the other nine?,” invites us to receive God’s healing of illness and inner wounds. What in your life needs God’s healing touch?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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