(Jeremiah 1:11-19; Luke 24:45-53) – J G White
11 am, Sunday, August 25, 2019 – UBC
Dryden is a six-year-old. A friendly, energetic six-year-old. When we are together, he loves to play hockey, visit the Fire Department, cook eggs for breakfast, jump on his trampoline, ride his bike, go to the beach, and many other things.
And he asks to do many things. All the time. Can we do this? Do you want to do that? When can we go there? Though I never raised any children, with this grandchild I know I must watch my words. Don’t promise anything I will not do. Don’t say, “yes, we can,” if we might not. I have to mean what I say.
So I have to watch my words. Not just my Ps and Qs, but be a man of my word, eh? Jeremiah had to watch his words, as a spokesperson for YHWH God. The LORD God promised to watch ‘his’ word.
When the LORD spoke to Jeremiah and said, “I am watching over my word to perform it,” God meant it. ‘I will do what I say I will do.’
What God wants spoken gets spoken!
What God speaks gets done! Start with the creation story of Genesis 1. God speaks, and things happen. “Let there be light.” And there was light.
“I am watching over my word to perform it.”
But there is a watching the word in another sense. Literally watching. Visual messages: things you see. These first messages to young Jeremiah were visual – he literally watched for the word of God. “What do you see, Jeremiah?” An almond branch; then a boiling pot… This happened regularly to the prophets of old. And the Psalm writer. ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God…” Psalm 19.
Actions speak louder than words, we say. Body language speaks so much too. A picture is worth a thousand words.
God opens minds to see and hear and know and understand the word, in all its forms. We looked at a scene from the end of Jesus’ life today. The very end of the book of Luke. It’s one of the moments when we are told He ‘opened the scriptures so they could understand them.’ For those disciples, this was what we call the Old Testament. There is so much ‘opening so they can understand’ that goes on. This continues to be a promise from God, that truth, reality, the message and meaning, will be made clear.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many moments too when God declares that the people will not understand. Even Jesus had moments when he said this. But there will also be times to know the word.
And there will always be sharers of the message to us. Jeremiah was to exercise his ministry no matter what. No matter what opposition or hardship – or how hard the words were for the people. Jeremiah would be strong and be protected for his long years of prophetic work – and he was protected. God’s words were a sure thing.
We have times when we know what we know: a divine message that is a sure thing.
My experience of this is subtle, gentle, gradual, I’d say. I am often looking for how the Spirit will speak next.
At the start of this year, in the winter, with a couple friends, I got into hiking in the frozen swampy woods, looking at the lichens on the bark of the trees. Learning about them, looking for the rarer species. I remember when Greg and I were walking, and found our first Yellow Specklebelly on the trunk of a maple tree. We did lots of looking for the newly named provincial lichen, Blue Felt Lichen. Eventually, after many weeks of hiking and taking note of every Blue Felt Lichen that was found, Jonathan spoke of them as these living things on the trees that were following him, watching him!
About the same time, in a Bible study group with some of you, we got talking about the classic Christian book, “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman. He suggests that different people express and experience love in different ways: by receiving gifts, or quality time, by words of affirmation, or acts of service (of devotion), or physical touch.
Next time I was out in the woods, I thought, prayerfully, ‘Master, you know my love language. You speak it for me. You give me joy in every tree and branch, every rock and rivulet out in the woods. Every beautiful thing I can receive as a loving gift from You, O God.’
Since then, I think of this from time to time, and view every created thing as a word from my Saviour.
That’s one of my experiences of the word this year. How have you seen the word of God?
When has a message become clear to you?
What have your experiences been?
May we keep watch over how we receive messages that are critical: correcting, warning us.
May we keep watch over how we share the messages we have, and do our part as witnesses.
May we keep watch over the word and the worship that train us and keep us in touch.
And our Saving God keeps watch over all this guidance for us.