Introduction to the readings for the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Once again we hear a story from the ancient texts attributed to the prophet, Jeremiah.
Here, this morning, even imprisonment cannot shake Jeremiah’s invincible trust in a God who gives him the needed words to speak truth to power and the courage to act on God’s guidance.
Listen with care to how Jeremiah’s words and actions convey a sense of hope and trust in a God that defies logic in a seemingly hopeless context.
Consider how the reading might inform our own words and actions as a church in our own community and in the wider denominational context.
Reading from the book of Jeremiah, Chapter Thirty two, verses 1-3a: “Jeremiah buys a field during the siege”
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time, the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.”
From verses 6-15: “Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Ananoth for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”
Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me,
“Buy my field that is at Ananoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
And I bought the field at Ananoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.
I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales.
Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.
In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they might 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.”
Here ends our first lesson from the ancient Hebrew texts this day.
Our sung response to the reading this morning is found at
Psalm 91 VU808 “On Eagles’ Wings”
Our second lesson from the Christian texts comes to us from the author of a letter composed to one of the early church communities located in the region of Ephesus or Crete-those ones striving to be the body of Christ functioning in the second century after Jesus died on the cross.
Notice again how the reading invites its’ listeners, and by extension us listening here this morning, to invest our trust in a God who calls us into lives of gratitude and contentment with what is life-giving as opposed to the entrapments of false teachings and the illusions of material wealth.
Reading from the 6th to the 19th, starting with verses 1-6
1 Timothy, Chapter Six: “False Teaching and Greed”
“Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.
But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
And from verses 11:19 “The Good Fight of Faith”
“But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of God, who gives life in all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession.
I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time-he who is blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”
For the word of God in scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us, thanks be to God!
Harper Collins Study Bible, New Standard Revised Version,
Copyright 1989, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.