A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Tough Being Young and Respected at the Same Time: A Lectionary Reflection on Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jeremiah 1:4-10

I was appointed to my first church at the ripe young age of 22. I was in seminary and learning and still had much more to learn. There is a kind of wisdom that can come only from experience, and I was well aware that I lacked such experience. But wisdom comes from other places as well, and I also believed I had something to offer the little rural congregation I served.

The problem I faced was that there were some elderly and seasoned individuals who were certain I had little to nothing to say to them because I was so young. They liked me, to be sure, but they didn't think I knew much of anything. When they disagreed with me on something instead of taking issue with the substance of what I was suggesting, they simply reminded me that I was young and inexperienced... which translated meant, when you are older you will come to see things our way. Well, I've been in ministry now for close to thirty years and I still don't see things the way they did.

The call to be a prophet is a difficult vocation. It means speaking the unpopular word, telling people what they do not want to hear. Prophets are never heeded in their own time. No wonder Jeremiah protests. It's bad enough he has been called to a thankless task, but even worse; he is young. It's difficult enough for a seasoned sage to deliver the word of God's judgment, but Jeremiah doesn't have the wrinkles, the age lines on his face, that might suggest he has a lifetime of experience. How can he offer the divine word when he is "wet behind the ears?" Why would anyone listen to him?

But God promises Jeremiah what he promised Moses centuries before-- God would be with him and he would deliver him from trouble. It is important to notice that God does not guarantee to keep Jeremiah from trouble, only to deliver him from those who would do him harm for the words he speaks on behalf of the God of Israel.

God calls people in all seasons of life. Regardless of whether God's prophets are young or old, when they speak, we must listen.

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