Sunday, November 20, 2016

Did You Preach on Jeremiah's Prophecy Today?

This Sunday's Old Testament reading will probably not get much attention in the average Episcopal priest's sermon as she/he preaches to mostly empty pews, and for good reason, because in Jeremiah 23:1-6 we hear about God's anger with those who lead his people astray,

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
The really bad shepherd of today will scrupulously avoid discussing Jeremiah, knowing that the words of the prophet of Israel are aimed right at the pulpit where they are standing.

The average bad shepherd of today, believing that their progressive gospel is the right one, will be totally unaware of the fact that it is that very same false gospel that has driven God's flock away, and that is why they are staring at so many empty chairs today.

The slightly bad shepherd will shy away from Jeremiah perhaps by saying that the prophets words were aimed at the priests of ancient Israel and leave it there.

Yes, most sermons today will focus on the story of the criminals on the cross as recounted in Luke 23:35-43, an important text to be sure with Jesus' promise to the one who recognizes him that,
"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
I pray that the false teachers among us will come to the realization that there are some criminal acts, such as driving away God's flock, which put them in jeopardy of God's punishment and that they repent before they wind up like the less fortunate criminal who derided our Lord as he hung beside Jesus.

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