by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The reading for Sunday, November 25, 2012:
Jeremiah 36:1-8, 21-23, 27-28; then 31:31-34
optional reading: Luke 22:19-20
In today's reading, we see that not every prophet enjoys the easy acceptance that Jonah did. You may remember that a few weeks ago, Jonah goes to Ninevah expecting to be rejected, as prophets so often are. But much to Jonah's dismay, the people of Ninevah not only accept his word, but go all out to show repentance--even the livestock fast!
Jeremiah doesn't have the same success. He delivers God's message to the king, but the king burns the scroll to show his complete disregard for God's message. In the parts of this book that we don't read, Jeremiah continues to try to deliver God's message, but no one pays any attention.
As we head into the season of Advent, it's good to remember that plenty of people have no interest in hearing God's message. We'll decorate for Christmas, we'll enjoy time off, and maybe we'll even spout platitudes about the true meaning of Christmas. But many of us are happy to stay gathered in the glow of the manger at Bethlehem. We turn away from the cruelty of the cross.
Again and again, the prophets deliver the message that Jeremiah delivers: we are people with God's imprint on our hearts. God wants to live in intimate connection with us. God will go to great lengths, including taking on human form and suffering crucifixion, to make that connection.
Why do we turn away? Why do we burn the scrolls that bear that message of God's great love?
The answers will be different for each human. We know that even the most devout believers have moments where they, too, burn the scrolls that bring God's message.
The prophets remind us that God doesn't want the destruction that humans seem to seek out so eagerly. God wants what is best for us. But we often don't want what's best for us.
As we head into the frenzy that is the Christmas season for so many of us, let us take a few minutes to think about how we will keep focused on Advent, not Christmas. So many prophets tell us to prepare our hearts. How can we best do that?
So many prophets implore us to stay alert so that we not miss the coming of God, which will happen in ways we don't expect. How can we keep watch in these days of so many distractions?