Tonight at Evening Prayer, according to the ACNA daily lectionary, we will read Jeremiah 36 which begins a sequence of chapters of historical material depicting what might be termed ‘the Passion of Jeremiah.’ Although it does not lead to his death, he comes pretty close in chapters 38 and 39. Meanwhile, in Morning Prayer, we’re getting into the Passion of Christ in John’s Gospel.
Because the Daily Office Lectionary is primarily a tool for reading the Bible sequentially, there is little to no intentionality to the combination of the lessons within a given day. Nevertheless it is fortuitous to the reader that we should come to the sufferings of Jeremiah for the word of the Lord at the same time as we read of the sufferings of the Lord himself. Notice the innocence they both have, before the face of the people. Notice the innocent verdict afforded them by royal authority, and yet how they inspire the hatred of the populace at large. One can even compare and contrast the way in which Jeremiah and Jesus respond to their accusations.
This is liturgy blog, not a Bible Study blog, but as Jeremiah is my favorite of the prophets I couldn’t let this slip by unmentioned. Notice the pattern of the confessor or martyr that these two stories establish. Even if the “official” authority figures find God’s people innocent of crime, that does not mean they will be safe from public ire for the message they bring. It is the same for a confessor or martyr in any age – whether a government or individual ruler finds Christianity favorable or not, the unbelieving element in society will always be adversarial towards us. Cozying up to King Zedekiah would have done Jeremiah no good, nor was Pilate able to save Jesus simply because he didn’t have a problem with him. Likewise the Christian should take note that we do not derive our true public safety by means of law and government. If the Gospel is offensive to a given culture, then members of that culture will not be kind to us no matter what those in charge may say.
May we strive to be as blameless and innocent as Jeremiah and Jesus. May we recognize, as we considered yesterday, our frailty and need for the protection of our maker.
Keeping the liturgy faithfully according to the tradition of our forefathers is well and good. But be sure you let it, especially through the words of sacred scripture, grow and transform you to reflect more and more the One whom the liturgy proclaims.