… you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you
See, today I appoint you … to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.
Jeremiah reads as if it should be included in the appointed readings for ordination. It is also a reading that is counter to our “i” culture, and is hard to hear because it just names the reality that at times things have to go, presumably because they no longer proclaim the Kingdom of God.
The bishop who ordained me told us (I was one of eight) that we had hitched ourselves to an itinerate star, and that the Spirit can be precocious. Born and raised in in metro Atlanta, I never thought I’d serve churches in rural North Ga., West Virginia, the Alabama Gulf Coast (note my zip code population was 612) and Arkansas. I did not choose these ministries. The opportunities came, discernment pointed the way, and my wife and followed. None of them are places I could have envisioned, but that’s not the point, after all it is God’s vision, and at some point being in orders is to follow commands, even if one can not see. it’s akin to the faith Paul attributes to Abraham. By the way, all these churches were a blessing to me and my family.
Now to tearing down and building up. Clearly Jeremiah’s calling is to take on Israel’s corrupt Kingdoms. I believe our challenge is to take on stuck communities who speak of “our worship” “our church”, “our traditions” and wonder why no one walks in the locked door. The hard truth is it’s not ‘our’ worship, church or tradition, it’s God’s. Secondly, I keep looking and can not find where Jesus says “they will come.” he’s always saying “Go!” Finally it is important to read all this bit, for it meaning is not destruction, but new growth, thus “to build to plant.”
So Jeremiah is counter cultural, and not particularly friendly, nonetheless, it speaks a vital truth. I hope I have ears to hear and eyes to see.