Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sermon notes on Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. For expats everywhere

Interesting, isn't it, that God (through the prophet Jeremiah) does not say to the exiles in Babylon that they have been merely hard-done-by and captured by an evil King. He tells them that he, God, is the one who has sent them into exile there. These would have been bitter words for them to hear. They might have wanted more sympathy.

Last week we heard the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 137) from the same epoch asking "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" This week the question is answered.

God says: You will take your sojourn in Babylon seriously. It's where you live now. Your health depends on the health of the city and your prosperity on its prosperity. Allow your family life to be touched by the community you live in and extend your own hand upon your surroundings as well. Let genuine relationship flourish.

Above all pray for the city in which you live and lift up its life to God.

France is not Babylon. America, Canada and Great Britain are not the promised land. One should hesitate to make too direct a comparison between our world and the Biblical world we happen to be reading about. Nonetheless we ought to examine which reflections herein might apply to us:

1) While there are accidents of history (work or family necessities) which move us hither and thither we are involved, as people of God, with a Creator, Redeemer and Inspirer who has always uprooted and replanted his people. He does it for their good and he does it for the good of the world he sends them into. It should not surprise you that you are here with a purpose.

2) The world in which we feel like aliens or visitors is a beautiful world. God wants something for it and you are a partner in that work. You - and not someone else. Here - and nowhere else.

3) Even the symbols which God, through his prophet, recommends - the building of houses, planting of gardens and the contracting of marriages - may mean something for us. What is the visible sign we do, or could, exhibit which shows that we want to belong to the society in which we are presently living?

At the very least let us be curious about this and consider it.

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