Thought for the Day by Elizabeth Pearson (St Chad’s)
Keeping Faith during Challenging Times.
The readings today pivot on the central importance of faith and believing in God. At the time of the reading of Jeremiah, there was great struggle and terrible destruction in Jerusalem, where it is clear that the people had abandoned God and were worshipping and making sacrifices to other gods. Jeremiah is ordered by God to take a jar out into the Valley of Hinnom and to break it in front of the priests and elders to show that it is broken and cannot be put back together.
This is quite a stark illustration of the severity of the situation and how God was advising Jeremiah that the people could not be reasoned with, and as a result of their ignorance, they should be abandoned by the elders and priests, as they were not believers, would not listen, and nothing more could be done.
Furthermore, God warns that he will bring further punishment, and ultimately that they will become food for the birds and animals. This is happening because the people had seen healing, miracles, and had heard scripture and religious teaching, yet still did not believe, and no more time was to be invested in them.
The second reading tells of Jesus’ rejection, where the people question him about being the Messiah. Again, Jesus tells them that they will not believe, and do not listen. That he is one with his Father. He also says “You are not my sheep”. Following this, there is the threat of violence as they pick up stones to throw at him. Jesus says “It is written in your own law that God said ‘You are Gods'”.
Following the threats, Jesus returns across the River Jordan to the place where John has been baptising people, and stays there. No more miracles were carried out, but by their actions, Jesus aimed to show the truth, and many people there believed.
Like now, during difficult times, there is the danger to overlook our faith, and just focus on day-to-day routines, forgetting the essential practice of prayer, service to others, and worship. Jesus taught about the importance of repenting of our sins and forgiveness. He also saw the high value placed on being part of a religious community of like-minded people to learn and grow. All these activities help us to be more loving and giving with our time, ourselves and those around us. It also shows us the high value placed on keeping good company, and being with like-minded people, who you are aligned with.
As Christians, and particularly during Lent, let’s celebrate the value and learning we get from our faith and how through some of the most challenging times, life is much more abundant and joyful when we can share together and worship (either literally, remotely or in private).