Preparing to preach for yesterday’s worship service was… really hard. For the past year, the rhythms of prepping for a pre-recorded service mean drafting and preaching a sermon well before the day it will actually be heard. But, for a preacher like me who aims to put God’s activity in the world front and center for our community to engage, the rapidly changing news cycles can be especially hard to keep up with. So often as I write I’m stuck wondering about what will capture our attention between this sermon being recorded and being heard. And in the last seven days, that dynamic was especially hard to manage.
The trial of George Floyd’s killer, the deaths of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo at the hands of police, the mass shooting in Indiana, all of this on top of continuing drama concerning the Presidential election, Covid-19 vaccination challenges and rising case rates, and so much more, how can we keep up? Which crisis requires our attention the most? What word can a preacher bring that offers anything of substance to such substantial concerns? These questions can haunt a preacher who’s up against a deadline.
Then I remember Jeremiah, the prophet who spoke to an audience that knew hardship and suffering first-hand. And while Jeremiah offers words of hope about the restoration of God’s kingdom and the joy that follows, the prophet doesn’t skip the tough stuff.
“Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
Before we rush to make sense of our predicament or even to find solutions, God asks us to first listen deeply to the mothers who weep for their children. Indeed, the future we seek will only be found on the path that leads first through lament and tears. Perhaps, our work is to make sure Rachel’s voice is not only heard but amplified. So much so that it can’t be ignored any longer, much as we will try.
Listen to Rachel. Insist that others do too. That will be enough for today.
May God’s peace come to you. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray:
Good and Gracious God, help us to listen for Rachel. Give us the courage to feel the pain of this immeasurable grief. Prepare us for the days to come when we will respond to the hope you have delivered in and through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.