Investing in the Neighbourhood

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Jesus hanging around on the pulpit, listening to the prophet Jeremiah.

A short monologue from the prophet Jeremiah:

People thought I was crazy! Buying a piece of land in the midst of death and destruction! I was in jail! Judah and Jerusalem were under siege, literally and physically.

With all of its fear and uncertainty and anxiety. And in the midst of that, what do I do? I buy a plot of land! I make an investment in my community.

It’s a ridiculous thing to do in the circumstances. And I do in a manner that it will be noticed! There are definite rules for the buying and selling of property. You can’t sell to just anyone, because the property in question is linked with the tradition and history of the people who came into the land and had the land divided according to Families.

I belong to a particular family, whose property is an essential part of our heritage, and our very identity. So I went through an elaborate ritual, making sure that the transaction was seen.  In your terms, I provided a photo-op! And the message is a message of hope, spoken in action on behalf of God.

In the midst of the doom and gloom and destruction I chose to invest in my community. I invested in the future. Some people tried to persuade me not to do it. And I admit, by all logical standards, it was a foolish thing to do. But I believed in our future. I believed that one day peace would once again reign. I believed that God was still with us! And I believe that God is still with you now.

You folks have different challenges don’t you? You folks remember a time when this place was full, when there were dozens of children in Sunday School and where the church was a central part of the community. You remember a time when you were young… and had energy and excitement to make the world a better place. A time when climate change was not on our radar. And some of you are tired… and overwhelmed… and despairing… Will the church survive? Will the world survive? (Pause)

You too have prophets… unlikely ones some would say. But you know, prophets are often unlikely people. I resisted God’s call… I was only a child and I did not know how to speak. But God touched my lips… and placed holy words there… God told me to get myself ready! To not be afraid! To stand up to speak! To speak out against powerful forces who would disparage, denigrate and vilify me. I heard… and obeyed… I wept for my country and my land…

You too have young people who have heard and obeyed. You have young girls taking on leadership telling you that the time is NOW! Do not be dismayed by their youth or their lack of involvement in church. They are doing God’s work! Who could imagined millions of people around the world, 10,000 in your city, showing up, taking a stand, speaking up. Caring about the earth, challenging our governments to make changes! That’s big work… but not bigger than God.

I know you are followers of Jesus. He lived long after I did. He too challenged the powerful ones in his time. He too was disparaged, denigrated and vilified. He challenges you to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself. How will you invest in your neighbourhood? How will you invest in the future? Of your church and of the world?

I know you care about people. I have seen the many people who come to the Food Bank… I have seen the way they are treated with dignity and respect… I have seen the countless hours you put in tending to their needs. I have seen the way you care for one another. I know you are generous. I know you love God and your neighbor.

Your challenge, in this time, is to realize how much you have… and release it for the good of the world. What will be your grand, crazy plan to partner with God and invest in your community?  Farewell my friends, farewell.

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

Stairs Memorial United Church

September 29, 2019

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