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Wednesday Wondering - January 24, 2024

Jeremiah 31: 1 – 6

1At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

2Thus says the LORD:

The people who survived the sword

found grace in the wilderness;

when Israel sought for rest,

3the LORD appeared to him from far away. 

I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

4Again I will build you, and you shall be built,

O virgin Israel!

Again you shall take your tambourines,

and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.

5Again you shall plant vineyards

on the mountains of Samaria;

the planters shall plant,

and shall enjoy the fruit.

6For there shall be a day when sentinels will call

in the hill country of Ephraim:

“Come, let us go up to Zion,

to the LORD our God.”

Reflection

There are many times in my life when I find that I am struggling and often I don’t know why I am struggling. I wonder if it has to do with how I see myself in the world. The challenge for me is to recognize that sometimes I don’t feel great about myself and that impacts who I understand myself in relation to my world. I was speaking about this with a friend of mine the other day and he said, “it is amazing the damage that we each do to ourselves when we begin to think negatively about ourselves!” They were profound words that struck a chord deep inside and I wondered where this might come from from? 

One of the most challenging things in life, for many of us, is to see that we are loved, loved by God for no other reason than the fact that we were created by the God who is Divine Love. I would like to share with you something that I received that was written by the late Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen - "Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody."…(My dark side says,) I am no good…..I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence." 

In our reading from Jeremiah, God's people who were living in exile believed that God had forgotten them, had abandoned them, but these few short verses reminded the people that they were, and are, God's Beloved. As much as the people believed that they had been abandoned, as much as the people believed that they were unworthy, that was not the case. Even in the midst of all of those feelings, Jeremiah reassures the people that God is still with them. In the midst of our struggles, in the midst of those times in our lives when we don’t feel worthy, when we don’t feel as if we have done enough, when we don’t feel good enough, we all might do well to remember that as well, that we too are God's Beloved. We are not just God’s Beloved when we feel good about ourselves, when things are all going great. We are God’s Beloved always, each and every day we might need to remind ourselves that we are God’s Beloved and in being God’s Beloved we are worthy. 

Prayer - God of Divine Love, help us to remember that our worthiness does not come from what we own, what we acquire, but rather it comes solely from the fact that we were created in love. Help us to truly understand what this means in our lives so that we can embody that love in all that we do and say each and every day. We pray this in the name of the God who so loved the world that God sent God's only son to live with and among us. Amen.


Peace and blessings,

Rev. Patrick Woodbeck

Minister

Gordon-King Memorial United/ The Big Red Church

Live stream can be found at the following link:

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