This Evangelectionay is based on Jeremiah 1:4-10
Today’s scriptures embrace the contrast of intimacy and ultimacy in describing God’s nature. God is, as Charles Hartshorne asserted, the most moved mover, involved as receptive and creative in every moment of existence as well as the arc of planetary and cosmic history. God is also the great beyond, indescribable and untamed by human desire or institutional control.
Jeremiah 1:4-10 is a testimony to divine intimacy. God has the beginning, middle, and end of Jeremiah’s life in God’s care. God imagines great things for Jeremiah, and constantly fills the young prophet with energy and inspiration. God is surely omnipresent and omniactive in Jeremiah’s life. God imagines possibilities, provides encounters, and gives guidance that will help Jeremiah embody God’s vision in a time of national challenge.
Jeremiah experiences himself as “chosen” by God, that is, he intuits a divinely envisaged purpose for his life. Taken with a degree of flexibility in interpretation, this story is congruent with the insights of process theology. God’s aim is intimate and personal, providing possibilities, energy, and inspiration. God knows our every step and provides guidance throughout our lives, not only because of God’s ongoing omniscience but because of God’s ubiquitous purposes. The moment of our birth is filled with divine purposes which may emerge in the call and response of divine, human, and environmental decision-making. Chosenness is a gift, not a demand. It is an invitation not a unilateral action. God works with and through Jeremiah’s gifts, respecting his life situation and agency.
The process-oriented preacher can universalize Jeremiah’s experience, reminding the congregation that God is at work in each life and that God’s vision is concrete and not abstract. God addresses particular persons in particular settings at particular times. The divine aim involves God’s choices and our responses and always pushes us beyond our initial plans moment by moment and over the long haul. God’s vision is not limited by our sense of inadequacy but can use small beginnings – young people and small churches – to do great things.
No one is left out of God’s possibility-rich realm. The smallest infant and the oldest adult alike receive divine visions for each moment. Each moment has its own particular vocation, each encounter leans toward actualizing certain divine possibilities, and each person has gifts to be realized for the well-being of the whole. The church is challenged to be a place where gifts, possibilities, and vocations are to be intentionally nurtured as our contribution to actualizing God’s vision “on earth as it is in heaven.” Still, God’s vision can never be reduced to our plans; it is always more than we can ask or imagine.
Loving God, I thank you for sending Jesus, your Son and High Priest,
to reconcile our broken humanity with you and with one another.
May his pure offering of his own lifeblood be a source of healing for our sins and
Hope for new life to all who do not know your love.
May I too be your faithful priest, offering my life and my love as a source of healing
for the sins of the world.
I make this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Contributed by Rev. R. Wayne Calhoun Sr.