Sunday school lesson for the week of September 7, 2014
By Rev. John Brantley
Lesson scripture: Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-24
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. 3 For the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors and they shall take possession of it. 18 Thus says the Lord: I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob, and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound, and the citadel set on its rightful site. 19 Out of them shall come thanksgiving, and the sound of merrymakers. I will make them many, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained. 20 Their children shall be as of old, their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all who oppress them. 21 Their prince shall be one of their own, their ruler shall come from their midst; I will bring him near, and he shall approach me, for who would otherwise dare to approach me? says the Lord. 22 And you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 23 Look, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand this. [NRSV]
Focus: God is writing a book of restoration, hope and joy for His people to read and bring into being.
Reflections: It is important that this opening reference is not to scroll or etching in stone, rather a new media for a renewed people. If there is one lesson to be heard in the context, it is that God is willing to use more than the old way of reaching us today for the hope and joy of tomorrow. It would be as if God spoke to the prophet and said, “Get our your 4X high definition disk burner and copy my words for this new generation that needs real hope.”
The promise given to Jeremiah for the people is God’s work of restoration. I love watching the win-win real estate show, “Love It or List It,” where one host, by showing a family three homes that meet their present and future needs, tries to help a family see themselves moving into one of the new homes. The second host tries to renovate their current home so they will enjoy staying where they are. The family wins either way! They see what they have in a new way or they take the risk of a new way of seeing who they are.
God’s promise to the people through the prophet is similar. God describes a reboot of the economy, their identity and a community that is centered on worship. Oh, that we would hear God in these same words regarding our economy, identity and relationship with the One we worship.
We near the anniversary of September 11, 2001, with renewed threats of fear and terror. We live in a world turned upside down. We hope for the time that God will intervene and start to reestablish the community of faith in the presence of our enemies. Notice that God’s promise continues to be a work in progress and a work through entrusted and sent people and leaders. Jeremiah is told to tell how God will send people as a storm of order in a world of chaos.
Homework: Read and hear the stories of the world this week and see where we hunger for hope. Write your answers to these questions: God, how can I be a bold prophet? How can I lead others to trust your word? Will I worship God’s work or my own?
Prayer: God, you are the source, the power, the hope and the joy the world hungers and thirsts to find. My share your joy and word beyond my comfort so that they world might be restored through me.
Rev. John Brantley is pastor of Rock Springs UMC in the North Georgia Conference. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.