This past Sunday we continued on our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Jeremiah’s epilogue to his large book, an extended treatment of his grief over Jerusalem and Judah, the five poems of Lamentations.
In the past, when I’ve come to Lamentations, I’ve understood it as this extended explosion of grief and pain and sorrow from the prophet Jeremiah. It is the fullness of the mere taste we had seen multiple times in the book that bears his name.
But now I see I was wrong. It is not an explosion, as if a fire hydrant has been knocked off its moorings, spraying water everywhere. Rather, this is a controlled, ordered, structured cataloging of pain. He has taken his time. He has thought this through.
Of the five poems/prayers that are each of the chapters, the first four are Hebrew acrostics, meaning the word that begins each line begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. That takes intention, planning, and time.
That kind of creativity and artistry tells us something about this book. “The lamentations are not simply cries from the heart…they are an attempt to reflect on the meaning of human suffering…these poems are a theodicy, and attempt to explain the ways of God to humanity. [Jeremiah] wants to do something more than vent his feelings. He also seeks to gain perspective on suffering, and to share that perspective with his fellow sufferers…these poems are [Jeremiah’s] attempt to interpret the meaning of the catastrophe (Ryken)” that had happened to God’s people.
To enter into the powerful theodicy and insightful, poetic interpretations of Jeremiah on suffering, grief, and pain, I invite you to watch or listen to the sermon on Lamentations. And if you’d like to study it further, I commend the Lamentations page over at the Bible Project.
Just a brief reminder that a great way to prepare for the service this coming Sunday is to read the text we will be studying together.
One of the dangers of reading the stories of those followers of Jesus that we find in the Bible is we can treat them as if they are almost super-human.
Preparing For Sunday May 12, 1 & 2 Thessalonians
This last Sunday, I preached the first of two sermons on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Here was the sentence I began unpacking, which is my summary of both letters:
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
First, it is Palm Sunday. Which means it is the beginning of a week of remembering the most important events in the history of the world: the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, his last meal with his disciples, his death at the hands of sinful men as the result of a sham sentence in a kangaroo court, his burial by those who loved him, and his resurrection from the dead just three days later. All of it for the salvation and rescue of the world.
The Whole Story: Ephesians-Week Two
I attempted to show in the sermon this past Sunday that Paul offers us two anchor points for our lives, and upon which our lives depend.
Preparing For Sunday 19 May 2019
What do you think of when you see these two words together?...