Truth be told thanks to the song by Jim Croce that’s about all most of us know about Jeremiah. For 2500 years he’s been trying unsuccessfully to get us to look up and pay attention to how we’ve lost our way. And for 2500 years, well, we’ve had other things to worry about besides Jeremiah’s antics. He’s the great reminder that we are much more invested in keeping things the way they are than in looking up and seeing what more might be possible.
Jeremiah gave his whole self to his call of taking in and taking on the heartbreak of his time that has such echoes of our own – environmental catastrophe, neglect of the most vulnerable and a cascade of bad prophet imitators who are making life miserable for others. He did his best, tried everything he could, pulled out all the stops to get his people to see beyond their short term interests including eating bad figs, refusing to get married, making and breaking a beautiful pot, burying his swim suit.
All of it, an attempt to get us to look up to see each other, remember who we are and are called to be. He had a wonderful image of our human possibility – a great parade of all of us led by the blind and lame and pregnant women.
I love the ending of Jeremiah. Everything Jeremiah said would happen, has happened. The Babylonian Empire overran tiny Judea, destroyed the temple, took the king away in chains to Babylon. It’s now a generation later and there’s a new king in Israel (still languishing in jail like the last king) and a new king of Babylon. The King of Babylon releases the King of Israel from prison and invites him to sit at his table each night and cares for his daily needs. Two enemies sit down together and discover each other which gives me hope for the rest of us.
Last Saturday I officiated at my first wedding in the last 19 months. Cooper, 4, and Connor, 2, were the ring bearers. They started out down the aisle with Cooper holding Connor in a neck brace stumbling along together. When their Dad opened his arms for them to come, Cooper ran down the aisle leaving poor Connor stumbling out to find comfort in his mom’s arms.
“Cooper you forgot Connor,” his Dad said.
Cooper looked back and went back down the aisle to find Connor.
This time he tried holding Connor around the waist but Connor walked too fast and Connor tumbled to the ground.
Cooper stopped, turned around. Came back, held out his hand and together hand in hand they found their way down the aisle.
If you walk ahead of me I may not follow. If you walk behind me I may not lead. But if you walk beside me, together we might yet find a new way home.