“Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.” – Jeremiah 32:14-15 (NRSV)
It was the early 1970s when I first studied Jeremiah. It was the time of Watergate, Vietnam, and the Cold War. We were discouraged about the state of our nation and the world. Jeremiah prophesied during one of Israel’s worst times: the armies of Babylon had surrounded Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was under house arrest because his words had been too painful for King Zedekiah of Judah to hear. Continue reading →
“I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all.” —Ecclesiastes 9:11 Continue reading →
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” —Psalm 23:4 KJV
The “shadow of death” is a colloquial saying in Hebrew meaning “mortal peril.” For many people in our world who are in mortal peril “the shadow of death” is literal. We might think of the people of Syria, or refugees in leaky boats, or young men in gangs. Or we might think of people we know who are dying. They live in “the shadow of death.” Continue reading →
Back in 2001 I wrote the lyrics to this hymn for Epiphany. We are going to sing it Sunday at the church I attend in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This hymn has only been sung a couple times before, once in Pittsfield right after I wrote it, with lovely original music by Lou Steigler, and once at Green’s Farms Church in Westport, Connecticut, where the then minister of music, Eileen Hunt, set it to Darwell’s 145th. I look forward to hearing it this way for the first time. Thanks to Ron Hanft for matching up the lyrics with the tune for the bulletin. It is copyrighted to me, but you may use it with attribution.
You all know those jokes that begin ‘I’ve got good news and bad news . . .” Well, in this sermon I’m going to flip it around and talk about the bad news first, because there is lots of bad news in the appointed lessons for today. There is talk of a dreadful “Day of the Lord.” There are dire warnings of impending disaster. Continue reading →
“In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
My soul refuses to be comforted.
I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.”—Psalm 77:2-3.
When I was eighteen years old my mother died. She was 53. That was fifty years ago yesterday. Her funeral was in the little church I had grown up in. I’d like to be able to tell you that my Christian faith was a great comfort to me at the time but it wouldn’t be true. I wasn’t sure about this God who could let such a thing happen. Continue reading →