Several folks were curious about the recent dedication service that took place on the grounds of our new Maritime Conference Center that can be found in Sackville NB on Wright ave. I was asked to preach at the service and it was both an honour and a blessing. A rainy but magnificent day ensued where many gathered from all across the conference to reflect, reconnect, and celebrate our most recent achievement.
I’ve been asked about the sermon from several people who would either like to hear it for the first time, or hear it again. So I figured the easiest thing to do would be to post it on our blog.
The sermon is based on Jeremiah 32:1-15. A note to the reader about grammar – I write sermon manuscripts for human ears, not for the printed page! It’s an oratory creation, so excuse the formatting and sentence structure. I also understand that they recorded the service, and that may be available through the conference website at some point.
I’d like to make a note regarding the title that I used throughout the sermon. Although I used it as a proclamation of the good news that I would return to again and again, the congregation decided to use it as a chorus, repeating it with me throughout. That, was really cool. I didn’t see that one coming!
In those days of great change.
In the night of our uncertainty, when we strain to reach out from our deepest desire, hoping, there will be someone, something, to hold onto lest we get swept away…
There are some hallowed words that have come down through the ages to which we, in the United Church, cling:
They almost always sound something like: God…is. We…Are. Not-alone.
Jeremiah’s prophecy and ministry embodies this prayer. Let us keep those words before us as we gather this day upon this sacred ground.
As one who God called to proclaim the Word – I believe in his own way, Jeremiah called upon this prayer many times – maybe he said it when he was:
Attacked by his own brothers, beaten and put in the stockades by a priest and false prophet, imprisoned by a king, threatened with death, thrown into a cistern by Judah’s officials – because they didn’t like what he had to say.
What da ya think Dave? Being a prophet sounds a lot like being on the campaign team and making the pitch at presbytery meetings doesn’t it?
I suppose Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet for a reason – there are days when we hope Red Letter and the executive can find some solace in that most biblical of truths.
Not to sound too smug, but this reading really does help us to reflect upon our collection of loose gems that we proudly call our conference staff and their ministry.
If our staff was behind the besieged walls of Jerusalem,
I firmly believe they would be faithful to the last.
Kendall would be saying in that voice of his, that stills the palpitating hearts of clergy everywhere – or at least slows them down – depending on how he reads the manual – that voice that is set on calming the raging tempest of pastoral relations crises, and opening the way to blessed resolution with those sacred words of his:
Calm down. Don’t panic. Here’s what you’re gonna do.
Laura would be ensuring the most vulnerable were cared for, that justice wasn’t lost in the chaos, and people still made their contribution to M&S – because even when you’re under siege the golden rule is still in effect.
Janice would be teaching the masses about how to not only survive but faithfully thrive during these changing times and moments of prolonged transition of Babylonian proportions – ensuring we are not overwhelmed.
Dave? Dave would be Baruk. Jeremiah’s scribe. Taking down every word and weighing each nuance of every blessed syllable of the prophet’s prophetic proposal.
Ensuring everyone else, including the king, understood the consequences of the prophecy before us, reminding the court there was no need to ask questions about the background material ‘cause they should have read it before the invasion