S (Scripture): Jeremiah 9:23
The Lord proclaims:
the learned should not boast of their knowledge,
nor warriors boast of their might,
nor the rich boast of their wealth.
No, those who boast should boast in this:
that they understand and know me.
I am the Lord who acts with kindness,
justice, and righteousness in the world,
and I delight in these things,
declares the Lord.
25 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will deal with everyone who is physically circumcised: 26 whether they are Egyptians or Judeans, Edomites or Ammonites, Moabites or the desert dwellers who cut the hair on their foreheads. All these nations are really uncircumcised; even the people of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.
O (Observation): God is dealing with God’s people much in the same way disappointed parents deal with their children: truth and love.
God is reminding all of God’s people that they have noting to boast in, except this: that they know and understand God (insofar as one can “know” God, that is).
God reveals God’s self as loving and merciful. When we disobey God, God’s frustration does show through, but always in the hopes that our behavior changes.
God’s people (and others who wishes to be in God’s favor) would circumcise themselves as a sign that they followed God and God’s ways. This was a commandment from God to Abraham. This was a sign of faithfulness to God.
But God says even those who are circumcised physically are not really circumcised towards a change in behavior. They are circumcised in ritual alone. In other words, their hearts are not changed to live with faith alone in God. They still veer towards the gods of this world.
A (Application): God’s frustration rests in the fact that all the things we trust in this world are fickle and change nothing.
So we, who are Christian, are called to trust in God. We are called to lean on God alone: not in knowledge or resolve or riches.
With that said, I point you to a statement by the bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the ELCA, on the ELCA’s decision to become a “sanctuary church denomination.” (Click here for that statement. I beg of you to read that, then come back to this devotion.)
Much has been said on various news outlets about our denomination’s stance regarding this declaration. I beg of you to consider today’s scripture reading and consider God’s call for God’s people to be faithful not to a political party or to our wallets or to our “safety,” but rather to be faithful to knowing God and listening for God’s call to walk alongside and to serve our neighbor in need. It’s a simple as that.
P (Prayer): God, we seek refuge in you. Help us to help those who seek refuge in body and spirit. Amen.