This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on September 18th, 2016.
The lament alone is why Jeremiah has been nicknamed the “Weeping Prophet.” Chapter eight is a prophetic poem is the source of the well-known spiritual There is a Balm in Gilead. The “balm” is healing medicine mentioned briefly in Genesis when a caravan of Ishmaelite’s traveling from Gilead to Egypt with a gum-like substance used to close and bind wounds (Gen 37:25). The rhetorical question “Is there a balm in Gilead?” is used to explore the depth of a spiritual and moral crisis in the Israelite community.
The mixture of God’s anguish and the grieving community in Jerusalem are interwoven in a lyrical mourning of the terror to come. In the face of demoralization and suffering, this lament has stood the test of time because these words touch the deepest parts of all humanity. The humanity of Jeremiah is evident through his own grief and depression. Jeremiah is lamenting for the community and for the God of his people. He is holding the tension between God’s anger and sadness and the profound loss of that Israel is and will continue to experience.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on April 3, 2016.
In a number of ways, this text serves as the pinnacle of John’s gospel. Themes which run like threads through the fabric of the gospel find their culmination in this text. If one views chapter 21 as the epilogue of the gospel, then this text serves as the conclusion to the core narrative. Its location in the narrative and its theological density demand that the preacher interpret this text against the overarching Johannine narrative.
The disciples were huddled behind closed doors. At this point in the story, they are no longer hiding from the horrors of crucifixion but the wonders of resurrection. The preacher might want to pause and illustrate ways in which resurrection upsets the status quo as much as crucifixion does. The resurrection says, “The world doesn’t work the way you’ve always thought it worked.” Many find it easier to huddle up and retain whatever normality remains rather than live into the subversion of resurrection. However, in this text, Jesus sends his followers out rather than blessing their huddle. Followers of Jesus cannot stay in our huddles, largely because he did not stay in his tomb.