September 1, 2019
Scripture reading: Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:10-16; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14: 7-14
Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:10-16; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:7-14
by Bob McConnell
Laity of Alley's Chapel UMC (Gate City, VA)
I love history, especially early American. I am an 18th century reenactor and during living history events I immerse myself in an 18th cent persona and for a day or so live the life my ancestors lived. Part of the joy from these experiences is to experience the sounds, smells, sights and emotions that early Americans on the edge of the frontier encountered.
One of the things I usually do in frontier camp is make soap. The process is simple – mix lye with water and lard in a cast iron pot and boil the contents over a wood fire until the ingredients have combined themselves to the point that the mixture will harden when poured in a wood box, or mold, usually about 3 hrs. for a 5 gal. mix. During a recent event as my soap mix neared the needed boil time I noticed the liquid level in the pot was going down more than what was expected due to evaporation. Before I could get the assistance I need to pour the mixture in the mold it had disappeared into the fire. As it turned out my pot had a hairline crack and after prolonged exposure to heat the crack became a fissure.
In today’s reading from Jeremiah 2:13 God reminds His people that they “..have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.” We as Christians are daily exposed to the prolonged ‘heat” of the secular world in which we live and are at risk if our ’cistern’ is cracked. At risk for what? Well, how about ”..changing our glory for something that does not profit.” (Jer. 2:11), or, “ following our own counsel.” (Ps. 81:12), or, ”..chose the place of honor..” (Luke 14:7) These are the very things that demonstrate we have forsaken our holy reverence (fear as in Psalm 112:1) for God. It is that reverence that inspires us to follow our Lord more nearly because we want to, not because we have to.
We are God’s boots on the ground in this world and when we accomplish the mission we are here for good things happen as confirmed by Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” and Luke 14:14, “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
When I used a cracked pot for soap it resulted in the loss of essential ingredients – lye and lard - that could be replaced only with time and work (no super market on the frontier) and the camp would be without soap for several months. If we allow our life of faith to become a cracked cistern then we lose access to the fountain of living water and “(go) after worthless things, and become worthless (ourselves).” (Jer. 2:5) Worse than that, others suffer because our portion of God’s work remains undone.
Gracious Lord, our redeemer and sustainer, guide us daily to examine our lives for those imperfections that might lead to a crack in our spiritual lives and the loss of living water so essential to our mission.