August 26, 2019
“For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another. If you do not oppress the alien, the orphan and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.” Jeremiah 7:1-15
by Peggy L Meade
Clergy of Holston Counseling Center
Loving the Prophet Jeremiah is both a blessing and a curse…as Rev Dr Renita Weems (my Hebrew bible Professor at Vanderbilt University used to say: “context…context…context, content…content…content" under that scope of Exegesis Jeremiah is always on point. I think Dr Weems is responsible for my always coming back to “the weeping prophet’s” prophetic voice.
In this section of scripture better known as “the temple sermon” I hear so much that strengthens my 60’s baby spirit. I do want to shout it in the streets. So, y’all listen up: 1) False Religion is Worthless 2) confidence in the temple is vain and 3) never think that we can do wickedness without suffering for it.
The people, we people, have put our confidence in the temple and sacrifices that go along with that system. Fundamentally speaking if they / we are not to act justly with one another and worship God alone their / our trust has been misplaced, focused in the temple itself and it’s worship, rather than in the God of the temple and the divine expectations for the shape of our lives.
We messed up Y’all… we’ve mistook the barn antenna (yes I’m dating myself) for the signal, we’ve mistaken the messenger for the message, the brick and mortar for the spirit, the system for the church, ritual for righteousness. How can we imagine if God allowed the destruction of “Shiloh” the “the place of peace” and Solomon’s temple how long do we think God will tarry with us.
Shiloh housed the Ark of the Covenant for some 400 years, Jerusalem thought they were better than the Northern tribes because they had Solomon’s temple. What is our claim to survival Holston Conference? The United Methodist Church? If God did not spare them what makes us think that we will be saved from our own Apostasy.
Scripture, reason, experience, and tradition show us 1) people become religious to get what they want 2) people use religion to fake a relationship with God 3) people use religion to compare themselves to others and 4) religion disappointments.
Jeremiah shouts at us that religion should make a difference in our lives, I mean the set of outward behavior, practices, ethics, and rituals that we do or avoid doing to mark ourselves as believers should mean something. Believing in God means we ought to love and value what God loves and values. Righteousness over Ritual!
So, may the Lord help us at my place of ministry and you as you read this to practice the ritual from righteous hearts. May God, and God alone increase that reality everywhere this message is heard. Let us repent and avoid the consequences of disobeying God’s command and our promise to:
“Resist evil, Injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” Choose Righteousness over Ritual!