Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Sides

          Two sides, the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the legal and the illegal, there always seems to be two sides, heads or tails.
          The Message God gave Jeremiah was aimed at King Zedekiah because he and his cohorts had been fleecing the people they were to supposed to be looking after, supposed to be caring for. They weren’t, so, God said, I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
          God was stepping in when the leaders failed in their duties. He also told Jeremiah about a “righteous Branch”…from David’s lineage, who would rule like a king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
          We know now the “righteous Branch” was Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Through Him Judah, and the whole world, was saved. Through Him we live in safety because Jesus intercedes for us before God, our Father.
          God saved Judah through this ‘righteous Branch’. What’s the other side of the coin? The other side of it is the Judgment. If we would’ve continued reading in Jeremiah we would’ve heard this. “Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their wickedness…Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall; for I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment, says the Lord… I am going to make them eat wormwood, and give them poisoned water to drink; for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.” Judgment was, and is, the other side of the coin.
          And, if we’d keep reading we’d find that God’s not very happy with his children, but especially the leaders. The king, the priests, and the prophets, all of them were leading the people away from the word of the Lord. That’s why he called Jeremiah to prophesy to the leaders and to the people.
          It’s not until we get to chapter 30 that we find the Good News that God is going to save Judah and Israel. God is going to restore the nations to health and heal their wounds. Their fortunes are going to be restored and the city rebuilt on the hill. Out of all this will come thanksgiving and there will be the sounds of parties and merrymaking.
          On one side of the coin was judgment and on the other side was justice and healing. So, what can we take away from this? What’s the Good News for us living today? What are the two sides of our coin?
          The world’s in quite a mess and our nation isn’t a whole lot better. Bickering, fighting, with words and weapons, is prevalent everywhere we look. People everywhere are pointing fingers at their leaders.
          We could get out our magnifying glasses and look at the churches, at our denomination, and without looking too hard we’d find similar things going on, bickering and fighting, people pointing fingers at their leaders.
          So, what are we to do? Bury our heads in the sand? Is God paying any attention? Does he care?
          You are here this morning because, I believe, you have faith that God is paying attention and listening…and acting. You’re here because you truly believe God has a plan. Maybe you’re here because here you can give God your thanks and praise for all he’s blessed you with. Maybe you remember what he told his children, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you…I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.” Maybe that’s why you’re here this morning.
          Two sides of a coin, two sides of any issue, two sides, judgment and justice, grief and joy, pain and happiness, darkness and light.
          We’re entering that time of the year when there is more darkness than light. For some of us the gloominess consumes us. We long for the light. We feel the weight of the darkness and we wonder if we’ll survive. That may be why we’re here today, to catch a glimpse of that flickering light that breaks through to shatter the darkness. Maybe we’re here so we can see the ‘righteous Branch’ Jeremiah spoke of.
          My friends, believe the Good News. God tells us in Jeremiah 31:31 ff…“I will make a new covenant…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another…for they shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest…for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
          We are not to lose hope. We are not to give up. We are to trust in the living God and his Son, Jesus the Christ. What is it we say about the mystery of faith, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. 
          My friends, the two sides of the coin, the good and the bad, have been, are, and will be again taken care of through the grace of our loving Father in Jesus the Christ.

          Thanks be to God for his eternal, loving grace. Amen.

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