During college and in my 20s I spent a whole lot of time feeling like I was fruitlessly wandering in the wilderness. I majored in music – just straight-up music – not music education, or music and something more “practical.” I hadn’t really learned how to learn – how to study, research, and I was just barely beginning to learn how to think critically (but was too proud to go to the college’s tutoring center unless forced to) or plan strategically, and my grades showed it. Before I knew it, graduation had arrived – and I may not have been a stellar student, but I at least could call myself a college grad. However, any illusions I’d had about college being an easy or short way to a happy life were quickly squelched in those first few years afterward!
A large part of my lament in life at that time was that I loved everything and had a hard time choosing one thing on which to focus, which made it difficult for me to gain much depth of knowledge. In short, I didn’t have a burning call in life. Part of that, I’m sure, was that my relationship with God was so sketchy at the time. The other part of that was just that like so many 20somethings, I hadn’t figured it out yet. My call to “somewhere between the church and the library” and “the intersection of faith, learning, and activism” wouldn’t be on my radar for another decade or so. It has taken me blood, sweat, tears, and age to get to a point where I can articulate what God has called me to.
That’s why I initially felt a little jealous about Jeremiah receiving his call from God at a comparatively early age – and yet as we continue reading Jeremiah I am reminded that being called by God is a blessing that is not without risks. On one hand it is great to know throughout our whole being that God has called us to amazing things. And on the other hand, after beginner’s enthusiasm, we still have to contend with the reality of living in our world and our lives in the midst of that call. We see that in Jeremiah this week.
June 3 – Jeremiah 15
June 4 – Jeremiah 16
June 5 – Jeremiah 17
June 6 – Jeremiah 18
June 7 – Jeremiah 19
June 8 – Jeremiah 20
June 9 – Jeremiah 21
Terence Fretheim’s outline of Jeremiah in Enter the Bible describes Jeremiah 11:1-20:18 as “Laments of Jeremiah and God. A series of six laments by Jeremiah is portrayed because of his suffering as the bearer of the word of God. They are interwoven with divine laments over the disastrous judgment that Israel experiences.”
What does vocation mean to you? Do you believe God has called you to something? Have you ever suffered because of a call in your life?
This month’s spiritual practice is described as “Face to Face Connection” by the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. It includes having hard, deep, or otherwise meaningful conversations with people in person. The Handbook notes, “The Hebrew word for face, panim, means not only ‘face’ but the presence and ‘wholeness of my being.'” (p. 159) One of its exercises is to “take a moment every day to deliver some messages face to face. Pray for the person as you walk to their desk. Over time notice if anything changes in these relationships.” (p. 160)
What will you do this week to connect meaningfully with at least one person?
This month’s book, Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World, may challenge some of us who are trained up in faith-based community organizing: “Faith-based organizers use the same basic assumptions and methodologies that would be employed when organizing any other sector of society, often using faith-oriented principles to articulate the rationale for their methods. While the majority of their organizing is congregational, based in particular faith communities, they involve other community organizations in their networks. ‘Faith-rooted organizing,’ by comparison, goes a step further. Rather than adopting a secular model, faith-rooted organizing is shaped and guided in every way by faith principles and practices. Faith-rooted organizing is based on the belief that many aspects of spirituality, faith traditions, faith practices, and faith communities can contribute in unique and powerful ways to the creation of just communities and societies.” (p. 8-9)
Do you believe Salvatierra and Heltzel’s comparison of faith-based and faith-rooted community organizing is accurate and/or fair? Do you think it makes a difference if one is faith-based or faith-rooted in community organizing?
Check the Think! Pray! Act! calendar for ideas and things to do.
Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world!
What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.
Brueggemann, Walter. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015.
Fretheim, Terence E. “Old Testament: Jeremiah.” Enter the Bible, n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/oldtestament.aspx?rid=44.
Ganim, Barbara, and Susan Fox. Visual Journaling: Going Deeper than Words. Wheaton, Ill: Quest Books, 1999.
Luther Seminary. “Enter the Bible,” n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/.
Luther Seminary. Word and World: Jeremiah. Vol. 22 of Word & World. Saint Paul, MN: Luther Seminary, 2002. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=88.
Sharp, Carolyn J. “Jeremiah.” Pages 221-234 in Theological Bible Commentary. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
Society of Biblical Literature. “Bible Odyssey,” n.d. http://www.bibleodyssey.com/.